Aug 31, 2009, 1:33 PM EDT
Last year Geovany Soto turned in one of the greatest rookie seasons ever from a catcher, hitting .285/.364/.504 with 23 homers, 35 doubles, and 62 walks in 141 games while gunning down 27 percent of steal attempts and helping Cubs pitchers post a 3.80 ERA when he was behind the plate.
He started the All-Star game, received 31 of 32 first-place votes in the Rookie of the Year balloting, and became just the 17th catcher in baseball history with an adjusted OPS+ of at least 120 as a 25-year-old. And now he’s been benched. “I think we’ll catch Koyie Hill a lot more,” manager Lou Piniella said yesterday after the Cubs fell 10 games back in the NL Central. “It’s been a struggle for Soto.”
Piniella is right, because Soto’s sophomore campaign that has definitely been a mess from the start. He suffered a shoulder injury just days into the season, got some bad press in June as a result of testing positive for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic, landed on the disabled list with an oblique injury in July, and has gone 6-for-47 (.128) since coming off the shelf. He’s hitting just .212/.318/.371 in 84 games overall.
On the other hand, while that represents a massive dropoff from his rookie numbers .212/.318/.371 is still significantly better than Hill’s career .215/.290/.311 line and basically equal to Hill’s .245/.329/.347 mark this season. Soto has also done a solid job behind the plate, throwing out 30 percent of steal attempts and pitch-calling his way to a decent 4.16 ERA. In other words, “a struggle for Soto” is more or less Hill at his best.
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