Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler Comeback Player finalist
By Shawn Bauman
Jorge Soler caps off an amazing year for the Kansas City Royals by being named a finalist for the AL Comeback Player of the year.
The 2018 season statistics were decent, but a broken metatarsal bone in his left foot limited Jorge Soler‘s year to only 61 games with the Kansas City Royals. His response in 2019 was to belt 48 home runs, besting the previous single-season record set by Mike Moustakas by ten, his OPS+ was .922, the WAR finished at 3.7, and he was an iron man playing in all 162 games.
Other accomplishments for Soler was finishing 5th in the league in slugging (.569), 4th in total bases (335), 2nd in RBI’s (117), and 4th in extra-base hits (82). He also had the honor of being named the AL Player of the Week for August 11th. He is also up for another post-season award.
Now Soler finds himself competing against Lucas Giolito and Hunter Pence for the AL Comeback award. Finishing first the AL in long balls and second in the league in RBI’s should give Soler a leg up on Pence offensively.
Pence only appeared in 83 games and while his OPS was close to Soler’s, his WAR fell way behind at 1.7. He had two different stints on the Injured List, first with a groin strain that cost him a month and then a lower back strain towards the end of the year. No knock on Pence’s numbers but Soler was able to grind it out all season long.
Giolito did not have injury problems in 2018, but in 32 starts his ERA was in the upper atmosphere at 6.13, he led the majors with 118 earned runs surrendered and was first in the AL by giving out 90 free passes.
2019 was a greatly improved performance for Giolito finishing with a 14-9 record, leading the majors with three complete games and two shutouts and improving his WAR by 6.9 points. He also was named to the All-Star Game, the AL Pitcher of the Month in May, and one Player of the Week award.
Having endured frustrating performances in ’16 and ’17 and then the rehab work Soler had to put in to get back to full-time action, and the fact he dominated day after day without time off, the award should end up on the RF/DH’s trophy shelf.