When the Kansas City Royals traded Wade Davis for Jorge Soler a lot of skepticism came with it. Especially with how he performed in 2017. Soler really needed to prove this year why the Royals traded for him.
With that being said, Jorge Soler has officially started showing why the Kansas City Royals traded for him. And he is doing everything he can to show why fans need to forget the past and embrace the current situation.
Soler’s time in Kansas City started off a bit rough, which might be an understatement. In his 35 games with the Royals in 2017, Soler slashed a miserable .144/.245/.258 with a .503 OPS. During that time he also had just six extra-base hits and walked 13 times compared to 36 strikeouts.
Needless to say, seeing Wade Davis throw his usual type of numbers, posting a 2.30 ERA season over 58.2 innings, made it easy to pessimistic about the trade.
While some were ready to give Soler a second chance, most were still holding onto the grudge of what the Royals could have done last year with Davis still on the team. Perhaps they could have scratched their way into the postseason with Davis. We will never know though.
Time for a second chance
The 26-year-old was one of the players we discussed earlier this year, claiming that if he would get consistent playing time we might be surprised.
Unfortunately, the start of the year was rough. To start the year, it looked as if the Royals were just going to have to swallow the notion that perhaps they made a mistake trading for Soler. However, the Royals had an unusual amount of postponed games, and Soler continued to miss time as manager Ned Yost was figuring out a lineup.
Due to all of the adjustments, Soler ended up starting 0-11 over his first four games, which spanned nine days. Then something seemed to click when Soler started playing nearly every day.
For this, we are going to look at two different chunks. We will look at the whole year and then we are going to look at how he has been doing since starting 0-11.
The Offensive Numbers
Let’s start with his season numbers. On the year, he is slashing an awesome .312/.435/.538 with 13 extra-base hits and 19 walks to 28 strikeouts. He has done all of this over 27 games this year. Granted he has only done this over 17% of the season, I don’t think many people would complain about this type of offensive numbers.
Soler has also shown tremendous pitch selection. On the year he has walked 19 times, and nearly set the Royals franchise record for most consecutive games with a walk. Instead, he tied with Royals legend, Mike Sweeney, with a walk in nine consecutive games.
He is also averaging 4.30 pitches per plate appearance. Due to being selective at the plate, he has forced pitchers to throw more pitches in the strike zone. This has helped increase his power numbers as the year continues because he is waiting for his pitch.
Which leads us to the next point. While Soler’s numbers are very impressive over the entire season. But when looking at his numbers after his first four games, they are even better. Which is hard to imagine.
When you exclude his 0-11 start, Soler is batting .354/.470/.610 with a 1.080 OPS. Yes, you read that correctly. Over his last 23 games, Soler is completely dominating at the plate. And more impressive, the longer he has continued having success at the plate, the more power he has started showing. Over his last nine games, he has five doubles and three home runs.
Those numbers are hard to complain about. So why are some still hesitant to jump on the bandwagon?
The biggest knock on Soler right now is his defense. However, this should be a very small thing that people are holding onto. The main reason why, when Jorge Bonifacio rejoins the team Soler could become the Royals full-time DH.
But let’s take a look at this defense. Is it really that bad?
When you look at this fielding percentage, it does seem pretty bad. As of right now, he has a .969 fld% on the season and has a -0.3 dWAR. However, looking at his UZR it tells a different story. The UZR is a stat that represents the “run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess”. He has a 2.3 UZR. For perspective, +0 is the number your average player scores and a +5 is an above average player.
Soler is just above an average player defensively according to this. Yes, he has made some pretty bad defensive plays. He has dropped some pretty easy fly balls. But is that not made up for by his offensive dominance right now?
I believe this is the type of player the Royals thought they were getting when they made the trade. I also believe that if Soler did not make the 35 starts last year the fans reaction to him would be completely different towards him this year.
With that being said, the likelihood of Soler continuing to hit .354 like he has the last 23 games is very unlikely. If he does, the Royals have a superstar on their team for just $4 million the next two and a half years. But a power hitter who can hit close to .280-.300 like he has been doing this year could be attainable.
If you have not jumped onto the Soler Train yet we still have plenty of room! And in a year where it might be hard to find positives, instead of hating on Soler like some are still doing, let’s embrace what he is doing!
So what do you think Royals fans? Do you think Soler is showing his true colors now? Are you willing to let go of your disdain for Soler because of the Davis trade? If you haven’t joined the Soler Train yet, why not? Let us know below!