2020 KC Royals player season preview: Jorge Soler

Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images /

Jorge Soler put together an amazing 2019 season with the KC Royals. As he enters his age-28 season, can he repeat that performance?

Welcome to the continuation of Kings of Kauffman‘s 2020 KC Royals season previews. Leading up to spring training, we’ll be breaking down 30 different Royals. Our analysis will include what they accomplished last season, what to expect this season, along with any other information pertinent to the player. Today’s subject: Jorge Soler.

Acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the infamous (maybe now not so much?) Wade Davis trade, Soler had high expectations placed upon him from day one. Possessing some of the best raw power in all of baseball, his ceiling was a 40-plus home run hitter and a staple in a major league lineup. After consecutive disappointing seasons with the Royals, the pressure was on Soler to put it all together in 2019. To say he had a good year would be an understatement.

What did he offer last season?

Injuries had plagued Soler’s tenure in Kansas City for two consecutive years. For the first time in his career, he managed to suit up for all 162 games in 2019. Posting a .265/.354/.569 line with a league-leading 48 home runs, it was a breakout campaign for him. Moving to designated hitter full-time allowed him to focus on minimizing his biggest weakness (getting injured) and maximize his greatest strength (power hitting).

The second half of Soler’s 2019 could make this season even more exciting. The slugger hit .299 in 71 games down the stretch, posting a 1.076 OPS. He also raised his walk rate from 7.5 percent in the first half to 14.8 percent in the second half. He was one of the top hitters in baseball for a large chunk of the season, although projections don’t seem to think he can carry that into 2020.

What should we expect in 2020?

Here are two stat line projections for Soler’s 2020 season, courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs:

B-Ref: .258/.345/.521 line, 29 2B, 33 HR, 84 RBI, .866 OPS
FG: .256/.350/.506 line, 29 2B, 37 HR, 96 RBI, .856 OPS

These projections are both solid but for a player like Soler, assuming he’ll stay healthy for the entire season, he should outdo them. It will be difficult for him to replicate the power display he put on a year ago but if a few home runs are traded off in favor of a more complete approach at the plate, the Royals should be happy with that. Expect another 40 home run season, but a little bit higher of a batting average.

The verdict

Jorge Soler doesn’t turn 28 for a few more days. He’s making a huge bet on himself by returning on another one-year deal, so it would be in his best interests to perform well in a contract season. Hitting another 48 home runs isn’t a sure bet, but yet another productive season from one of the game’s best designated hitters is. Expect 2020 to be kind to Soler.

Next. 2020 season preview: Whit Merrifield. dark

What do you think, KC Royals fans? Will Jorge Soler repeat his 2019 season this year, or could he be in for some regression?