Cleat Geeks

SABERmetrics Sunday: Jorge Finding His Place In The Sun?

It was just after the 2016 season when the Kansas City Royals acquired OF Jorge Soler in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. At the time it seemed like a real good deal for Chicago as they got All Star closer Wade Davis in the deal. While it worked out good for the Cubs as Wade Davis had another All Star season in 2017, the Soler return has looked mighty good for the Royals this season.

Jorge Soler was originally one of the prime building blocks for the rebuild in Chicago. He tore it up in the Cubs farm system and made the majors in 2014. Over the next two seasons, Soler struggled to find consistency at the plate and had a number of nagging injuries. The potential was always there, but not staying on the field and having a crowded roster to begin with hurt his development. Luckily they did win a World Series with him, but that was the end of his tenure in Chicago. He totaled 101 games in 2015 and just 86 in 2016.

Soler’s first year as a Royal in 2017 was very rough. Just 35 games while missing the rest of the season due to injury with one home run, a .245 OBP, .503 OPS and -0.9 fWAR.

This year we are seeing a revitalized Soler who is doing it all offensively. Getting on base, hitting for power and generating runs. Before diving into detailed analysis, here are the key stats for Jorge Soler in 2018 (through 5/11).

Image result for jorge soler

.425 OBP / .525 SLG / .950 OPS / .405 BABIP / 23.6% K / 14.9% BB / 157 wRC+ / 5 HR / -1.8 Ultimate Base Running / 2.3 Ultimate Zone Rating / -3 DRS / 1.4 fWAR 

Looking first and foremost at his batting stats, the numbers are really good. His career-high BB rate previously was 11.7% in 2016 so if he keeps up the higher walk rate around 15% then that will continue to help his OBP. Soler will likely always be in the top-half of strikeouts, which is where he is at currently, so that is no surprise. The one thing to note is the .405 BABIP, that is not insanely high, but still unsustainably high. It will go down as the season goes, however that does not mean he will tank later on. He can keep up some real good numbers throughout the year while the BABIP goes down. If he continues to drive the ball and take more walks like he is now, we could see him make his first All Star team.

Just some notes on his defense. He was never a good defender, with career UZR and DRS numbers well in the negatives, but if he can be serviceable, the Royals will take it and he can DH if need be.

If Soler stays healthy and can maintain most of these numbers, then it can be safe to say he finally reached his potential. He was a top-prospect for a number of years coming up. This year he can play everyday and get more consistent at-bats. Chicago Cubs fans may miss the potential he had especially now, but him changing scenery was probably the best thing for him.




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