Tuesday night’s All-Star game marked the inexact, but traditional, midpoint of the major league season. After a hot 16-9 start that put them in first place, the KC Royals dropped off significantly, having a 7-20 record in June and ultimately falling into last place in the American League Central at 36-53.
A big part of their drop-off was the Royals’ streakiness. They lost 11 straight games in May, a June skid included 11 losses in 12 games, and they dropped seven of their last 10 before the All-Star break.
A primary factor in those streaks is some players’ underwhelming performances. Here are the top three underperformers at this season’s midpoint.
Jorge Soler has not done much with his diminished bat for the KC Royals.
Jorge Soler is an obvious pick as an underperformer—he simply hasn’t been showing the promise he did in 2019 when he slashed .265/.354/.569 with a .922 OPS and broke the team’s single-season individual home run record with 48.
Since then, Soler has slashed only .201/.296/.364 with a .650 OPS and only 15 home runs. This year, he’s hit only seven home runs and slashing .186/.279/.320 with a .243 BABIP and -1.8 WAR.
A major contributor to these low numbers has been Soler’s inability to get the barrel on the ball. According to BaseballSavant, Soler’s barrel rate has decreased significantly from last year’s 18.9% to 12.5%, and his percentage of hitting the sweet spot has dropped to a career low 25 from 36.7.
In addition to his poor hitting, Soler hasn’t been the best defender when given the nod in right field. He has a .983 fielding percentage, and his outfield jump is a poor 4. BaseballSavant gives him a -5 OAA and fielding success rate of 75%, which is below the estimated 81%.
It’s come to the point where Soler’s magnificent 2019 season appears to be an outlier in his career. He hasn’t been the power hitter the KC Royals have expected him to be.