Alfonso is the starting second baseman for the American League Champion New York Yankees.
New York Yankees
Born: January 7, 1978, San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
The rookie came on like gangbusters, easing Chuck
Knoblauch's transition to the outfield while establishing a
hint of things to come. Alfonso Soriano had a great
season at second base, providing playoff heroics with his
bat and spectacular, if unsteady, play in the field. He
already is being touted as a 40-40 candidate and a great
complement to shortstop Derek Jeter. Some say he
should be moved to the outfield, but Soriano already has
proved he can handle second base.
Soriano came into the majors with a reputation as a free-swinger who was
loath to draw a walk, but his patience grew over the course of the season.
Scouts and team personnel marveled at how the ball jumped off the bat of the
righthanded-hitting rookie. He still hit .194 when batting with two strikes
and whiffed 125 times, so there's room for improvement. But his ALCS homer in
Game 4 and game-winning hit in Game 5 of the World Series proved he isn't
scared of going the other way or of late-inning pressure. He led all
American League rookies in doubles, homers, RBI and extra-base hits.
Baserunning & Defense
Soriano finished third in the American League with 43 steals in 57 attempts,
including 11 swipes of third. That showed he had the guts of a cat burglar
and an understanding of when to try for an extra base. Soriano made 19 errors,
including way too many throwing errors. He had difficulty on the
double-play pivot for a time because he was a natural shortstop.
The sky is the limit for Soriano, who finished third in voting for Rookie of
the Year. He likely will get a crack at the top of the lineup this season
unless manager Joe Torre decides the youngster strikes out too much. He
should continue to grow in leaps and bounds.