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FEBRUARY 20, 2004
This All-Star Can Go Either Way
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

This is the story of two current major league players.

Both stand 6’ 1” tall and weigh approximately 180 pounds.  Each both bats and throws right-handed.  At this writing, each is anticipated to man the outfield for their respective team in 2004.  Both have a great smile.

Below is an interesting snapshot “tale of the tape” for each player:

Player A through Age 27

Player B through Age 27

503

Games Played

501

2055

Plate Appearances

2150

.611

Offensive Winning Percentage

.578

78

Homeruns

98

101

Stolen Bases

121

+96

OPS vs. the League Avg.

+62

+1.4

RC/G vs. the League Avg.

+.82

Both players have had issues making contact in the post-season.  Player B, through age 27, had struck out 45 times in 146 post-season at bats.  Player A, in his post-season career to date, has struck out 57 times in 147 at bats.  (Those stats for each just make you want to say “Suuuwing-batta!”)

Of course, there are two small “catches” here.  We did not know Player B was truly now age 28 until a few days ago; and, while Player B is presently slated to play the outfield this season, it will be a position switch for him. 

It must be very clear to most at this junction that Player B is Alfonso Soriano, the new member of the Texas Rangers.  (Soriano told New York Yankees officials last summer that his date of birth was January 7, 1976, not 1978.  This information just came to public light in his recent trade to the Rangers.)

But, who is Player A?

Player A gets around.  In fact, this season, he will be playing for his seventh different team in the last seven years (all in the National League).  The last memorable view that many may have of him is his attempting to field a ball in play while being beat on the back with thunder sticks by a fan (back in the 2002 World Series).

Player A is Reggie Sanders, the new member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

These days, many have been quick to say that Alfonso Soriano has “Hank Aaron” potential.  But, what was said about Reggie Sanders back when he just turned age 28?  For a quick answer, the STATS Inc. “SCOUTING NOTEBOOK: 1996” can be consulted.  Therein, they had the following report on Sanders’ “outlook”: 

Only 28, Sanders is at the peak of his talents.  There’s no reason he can’t continue to put up numbers similar to last year’s stellar campaign.  With continued improvement, Sanders could reach MVP status and possibly the 30-30 club.  But first, he’ll need to put his LCS problems behind him.

Interesting, is it not?  Word for word, the same could be said about Soriano now:  “Only 28… is at the peak of his talents.  There’s no reason he can’t continue to put up numbers similar to last year’s stellar campaign…with continued improvement…could reach MVP status and possibly the 30-30 club.  But first, he’ll need to put his LCS problems behind him.”

The difference between the two players, at least to date, has been their ability to stay injury free.  In his first three seasons in the big leagues, Soriano has barely missed a game.  Throughout his career, Sanders, especially after age 27, has been extremely injury prone.

It will serve Alfonso Soriano well to eat his Wheaties every morning and always look both ways when crossing the street.  When it comes to having, and cashing in on, potential, in baseball, just as it is in life, health is wealth.

Or, Soriano can just settle for being the second coming of Reggie Sanders as opposed to the next Hank Aaron.


Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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