The Dominican native cut his teeth playing pro ball in Japan before being signed by the New York Yankees in 1998. After cups of coffee with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000, he finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting behind future Yankee teammates Ichiro Suzuki and C.C. Sabathia.
Soriano’s finest season came in 2002 when he hit .300 with 39 HR and 102 RBI. That year, Soriano led the AL in hits, runs scored and stolen bases. Soriano was one HR shy of being a 40-40 man. He would finish third in AL MVP balloting behind Miguel Tejada and Alex Rodriguez.
Speaking of A-Rod, Soriano would be traded for him and would spend two seasons with the Rangers plus one with the Washington Nationals (in which he hit a career high 46 HR) before signing an 8-year, $136 million contract with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2007 season. Although the Cubs did make the post-season in ’07 and ’08 and Soriano made the NL All-Star team both years (six selections in all) his best years were behind him. To be fair, he began his career as a defensive liability at second, but would make himself into a decent left fielder.
Soriano did enjoy a renaissance last year when he returned to the Yankees hitting 17 HR and 50 RBI in only 58 games. But in 2014, Soriano hit only .221 with 6 HR and 23 RBI before he was released during the All-Star Break.
Soriano finishes his career with 2,095 hits, a respectable .270 lifetime batting average with 412 HR and 1159 RBI. It won’t get him into Cooperstown, but he’ll probably stay on the ballot for a few years.
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