If you made a list of players that have pressure to perform this year, Jorge Soler might be at the top. One thing is for sure, the Kansas City Royals need Soler to increase his production.
The Kansas City Royals obviously saw something special in Jorge Soler when they traded for him during the 2016-2017 offseason. If they didn’t, they would not have traded arguably the best closer in baseball, Wade Davis, straight up.
Soler’s time in Kansas City has been off to a rough start. Over his first 35 games in Kansas City, Soler slashed a less than impressive .144/.245/.258 while hitting just seven extra-base hits. What was less than encouraging was the fact that he struck out 36 times, over one time per game.
Fortunately for Soler, he showed a bit of what he could do in 2017. It was just unfortunate that it happened in Triple-A. While in Omaha he played in 74 games, slashing .267/.388/.564 with 33 extra-base hits, 24 being home runs. It was not great, but it shows that there is some great potential.
The pressure is on
Which leads us to this year. Soler has to produce this year. This year is his chance to show that he belongs with the Royals and that he is apart of the rebuild.
Before the year started, many people agreed that Soler needed to reach the 500 at-bat milestone to see what he was capable of. The most he has had in a season was 366 at-bats back in 2015 and he played in 101 games, hitting .262/.324/.399 with 28 extra-base hits. What this does helps support is the more consistent at-bats he has, the better he hits.
When looking at his numbers this year, fans have to be cautious. In 2018, Soler started off really bad. In fact, he started 0-11 over his first four games. Which means his season numbers are bit skewed.
When you look at what his season numbers show, he has a .216/.318/.270 slash with two extra-base hits and 12 strikeouts. However, his first four games took place over 10 days due to days-off and postponed games.
However, when you look at the last seven games when he played every day, his numbers look different. During this seven-game stretch, he has hit .308/.379/.385 with two extra-base hits, both being doubles. He is still striking out a lot, striking out nine times during those seven games, but he is obviously hitting better.
I chose to ignore the defensive aspect for a reason. I believe he is more of designated-hitter than a right fielder. When the Royals start bringing up some of their outfield options in the system, Soler will most likely be pushed to the designated-hitter spot full time.
When you look at the difference between consistent play and erratic play, he is two different players. He does not seem to be a hitter that will bat .300 in a season, but if he showcases his potential freakish power (an average exit velocity of 91.67 mph compared to the MLB average of 88.77 mph) while hitting .260 to .270 then the Royals can’t really complain.
Looking at his contract as well, the fact that he is only making $14 million over the next three years makes the want for him to succeed that much more. Having an outfield of Jorge Bonifacio, Paulo Orlando, and Soler with the anticipation of Jon Jay being traded, having a cheap contract with potential like Soler’s is crucial for a team that is rebuilding.
So what do you think Royals fans? Are you pleased with the recent showcasing of Soler? Do you think he can live up or be close to expectations this year? Let us know below!