By Robert Dominguez
It’s easy to overlook just how good a hitter Alfonso Soriano was over a 16-year career in which he racked up some pretty impressive stats with a dynamic combination of power and speed.
Not to mention he was the main trade bait (along with a no-name minor leaguer) that brought Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees in a blockbuster deal with the Rangers before the 2003 season that, for better or worse, changed the course of Bombers history.
On this day in béisbol, May 12, 2014, the 38-year-old Dominican Republic native, on his second stint with the Yankees and in the final season of his career, tied a record that showed just how productive he was.
Facing Mets starter Bartolo Colon at The Stadium, Soriano’s second-inning single made him only the seventh player with 100 home runs, 500 RBIs and 500 runs scored in both leagues. The other six weren’t bad hitters: Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero, plus Fred McGriff, Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Lee.
That accomplishment, along with 412 lifetime HRs and a respectable 2,095 hits, has had Soriano supporters clamoring for his being seriously considered for Cooperstown since he retired with the Yankees, the team that signed him out of a Japanese league in 1998 as a wiry, speedy infielder with power potential.
Soriano, a seven-time all-star who played with the Cubs for seven years, plus two with the Rangers and one with the Nationals, is also one of a handful of players to achieve an extremely rare 40-40 season — more than 40 homers and 40 stolen bases. He did it with Washington in 2006 with 46 round-trippers and 41 swipes, a year he also won the Silver Slugger as a left fielder and was sixth in MVP voting
He also had three 30-30 seasons, another distinction that puts the unsung star squarely in the Cooperstown conversation next year, his second of eligibility.
Robert Dominguez is co-author of “Bronx Bummers: The Unofficial History of the New York Yankees’ Bad Boys, Blunders and Brawls” and writer of the upcoming “El Salón: The Trials and Triumphs of Baseball’s Latino Hall of Famers.”
Photo: Ben Grey – Under Creative Commons license