We’ve long heard about a potential breakout for Jorge Soler, seemingly since the day he signed with the Chicago Cubs. After years of disappointment it all finally came together in Kansas City, as he finished with the following monster numbers:
589 At Bats
.265 Batting Average (156 Hits)
48 Home Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.354 On Base Percentage
.569 Slugging Percentage
.294 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Part of the career best numbers were due to playing a full season for the first time (he appeared in 162 games), but obviously that’s not the only thing. While he’s always shown power potential, he also clearly benefited from the power surge throughout the game. His 28.1% HR/FB was the seventh best mark in the league, and it was further skewed by increased production in the second half:
- First Half – 25.0%
- Second Half – 31.6%
The first half pace yielded 23 HR over 338 AB, or a home run every 14.7 AB. Assuming he had 550 AB in a season that would put him on pace for roughly 37 HR. That’s still a very good mark, though it’s not quite as impressive as last season.
Then you have the chance that opposing pitchers start throwing him fewer and fewer fastballs. Of his home runs 27 came against fourseam fastballs and cutters, as he posted SLG of .766 and .824 against the pitches. He’s already seen hard pitches just 50.58% of the time, so how many fewer can he see? It’s still something to consider when you factor in the Whiff%:
- Hard – 9.43%
- Breaking – 19.73%
- Offspeed – 16.98%
You couple that potential strikeout risk with a 22.2% Oppo%, making him prone to the shift and making it harder to maintain an elevated BABIP, and his average is also at risk. If the strikeouts rise and the power falls, would it be shocking to see him hit under .250? Obviously there’s value, but finding a mid-30 HR hitter with a .250ish average? That’s not as hard to find as you’d think.
Currently he has an average ADP of 80.44 in NFBC drafts, being selected before Matt Chapman (86.20), Andrew Benintendi (108.12) and a host of others. It’s not an unreasonable price, but given the names you can get later on it’s an easy pass.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball