Kansas City Royals sluggers Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier are becoming a solid 1-2 punch in the lineup and are looking to join rare company.
Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier have become one of the most formidable hitters in the middle of the lineup for the Kansas City Royals. Soler, 27, was acquired during the 2016 offseason in exchange for closer Wade Davis. Soler showed a ton of promise for being an everyday player but due to injuries and struggling with strikeouts early in his career, he was the odd man out in a crowded Cubs outfield.
Dozier, 28, was the Royals first-round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft and is finally playing in his first full season. He, along with Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi, is leading the American League with 9 triples. Dozier has also shown quite a bit of power this season, smacking his 25th home run of the season on Friday night.
The two have combined for 65 home runs and 179 RBI’s on the season. They are also closing in on rare company. There was a graphic displayed on Friday night’s broadcast that Soler and Dozier are close to becoming just the third set of Royals teammates to have 0.900 OPS seasons. The first came in 1979 with George Brett and Darrell Porter having a 0.939 OPS and 0.905 OPS, respectively.
Jermaine Dye (0.951) and Mike Sweeney (0.930) followed suit in 2000. Dozier currently has a 0.915 OPS and Soler is close, sitting at an 0.880 OPS entering Saturday. The two have been bright spots on a pretty terrible Royals roster and hopefully, the front office can build around them before they are over the hill.
Soler’s second half has been really encouraging after a first half in which he was still striking out in close to 30 percent of his plate appearances (106 wRC+) but he’s been electric in the second half reducing his strikeout percentage to 21 percent (160 wRC+). Even his outs have been well-struck balls when he smashed a 105.6 mph liner to the Marlins right-fielder on Friday evening.
Assuming no trades occur during the offseason, the position player locks on this roster appear to be Soler, Dozier, Merrifield, Mondesi, and Salvador Perez when he returns in 2020. I would expect the team to decline Alex Gordon‘s steep mutual option next season and it’s unknown if he will retire or return on a lesser deal.