Last week, an official member of the Razzball Commenter Crew (It’s free to join!) asked if I could do a Bear or Bull on Jorge Soler. I immediately responded with “Bareback?” and “Are you Japanese by chance?” Ok, I lied. My first response was “Sure,” but that doesn’t get clicks!!! Plus, my jokes come out as fast as a sloth takes a dump, but hey….eventually both come out. Anyways, Soler has been a hot topic recently. I’ve seen headlines circulating all over the internet, but like a psycho child that doesn’t take a peek at the hidden Christmas presents, I refrained. I wanted an unadulterated look. So, here it goes…

The first thing that jumps out to me is the .406 BABIP, which is contributing to the .308 batting average. Both are unsustainable and will come down, but by how much? The projection systems have Soler pegged for a .315 BABIP and .243 batting average. Those numbers seem fair, but I’m just not going to let the machines dictate my life. How many times has autocorrect failed me?

Soler currently has a 25.2% strikeout rate. Last season, that number was 32.7%, but in two of the three other big league seasons, he had a 25% rate, so that number isn’t an outlier. The 15.7% walk rate is a juicy number. He often had a high walk rate in the minors, but the number had never been higher than 12% in the big leagues. The interesting thing to note, though, is the improvement he’s made since getting his first taste of the Show. When he made his debut in 2014 with the Cubs, the walk rate was 6.2%. The following year, it improved to 7.9% then spiked to 11.7% in 2016. Last year, the walk rate was 10.9%. The 15.7% rate is probably unsustainable, but expecting a 12% walk rate is not a profound idea. In fact, most of the projection systems have him down for 12%.

When looking at the batted ball profile, he’s hitting more ground balls and fewer fly balls. The GB/FB ratio is 1.14, the first time over 1 since back in 2015. He’s still an extreme pull hitter (54.8%) and the hard hit% is a robust 42.5%. Hmmmm. So he’s rolling over on a lot of pitches, but smashing the ball when he connects.

FB% SL% CB% CH%
2014 56.1 20.6 7.3 9.2
2015 51 22.1 10.7 9.8
2016 49.2 19.3 8.7 15.7
2017 45.1 23.9 7.3 12.8
2018 41.9 25.4 10.3 16

(Fangraphs data)

Kind of makes sense now. Soler is seeing fewer fastballs and more offspeed stuff. Is he becoming more like a jaguar in the jungle waiting to pounce on its prey?

Soler is swinging at a career-low 22.8% of pitches outside the strike zone. He’s also swinging at 59.1% of first-pitch strikes, the first time under 60% since 2014. The overall swing% is at 39.2%. That number had never been below 40%, but Soler is swinging at 67.7% of pitches in the strike zone. That number was 60% last season. In addition, the contact rate for pitches in the strike zone is 83.6%. That number was 74% last season.

Whew. That’s a lot of numbers. Here’s how I interpret everything. Soler is a much more patient hitter and is smashing the ball when he gets his pitch. Unfortunately, he’s seeing more offspeed pitches, which are inducing more ground balls. Since he’s primarily a pull hitter, he’s rolling over on most of the outside located offspeed pitches. I’d feel more comfortable with Soler going forward if the line drive rate was higher (17.8% currently) or he went oppo more. With that said, he’s hitting second in the batting order and should feast on mistakes, but it looks like there’s been too much luck involved to get behind the .300 batting average.

VERDICT

   
  1. Turd Ferguson says:
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    I am done going down the post post post post hype sleeper road this guy tries to trick me into each season.

    Thanks for helping me close the trash can FOREVER!

    Do you think my Gallo gets his Rizzo in an ops league? Is this smart on my end?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @Turd Ferguson: Ha! My pleasure….unless he morphs into Mike Trout, then it wasn’t me.

      As for Gallo for Rizzo, I don’t think it’s enough but every owner is different. If you can get Rizzo for Gallo, that’s a no brainer for me

  2. Grey

    Grey says:
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    I like what you did with the title!

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @Grey: Didn’t think anyone would notice that. It was more about me playing with myself. Anyways, that is why you are the Master Lothario.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        We Are En-Jorge’d? Hmm…Maybe you were better off going lowkey

        • Son

          Son says:
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          @Grey: Don’t be a Hate-Jorge’d. Did I do that right?

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            By Jorge, I think you got it!

            • Son

              Son says:
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              @Grey: Boy Jorge is curious

            • thekingadrock says:
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              @Grey: Are you seeing this bundy start??? royals just said first time in MLB history a starter has given up 4 hr w/o recording an out. insane. also can we call him MC Soler?

              • Son

                Son says:
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                @thekingadrock: I was watching the game. I stacked the Orioles. I’m sad. Anyways, at least I don’t have Bundy anywhere. That is an insane stat. MC Soler? Hmmm. I’m going to have to send the request up the ladder, as MC Ren is the only MC in my heart.

                • thekingadrock says:
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                  @Son: Iol thx!

                  • thekingadrock says:
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                    @thekingadrock: thats LOL don’t think iol is a thing

  3. thorbs says:
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    How far do you think Soler drops? I pegged him as a .260 – .270 hitter at year’s end with 20 – 25 jacks and a decent OBP. Too optimistic?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @thorbs: Definitely within the range of outcomes. Let’s see how he responds to the adjustments and cold streak

  4. batflix says:
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    Wait, I forgot is bear bad or good?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @batflix: What’s DJ Khaleed think about going down?

      • batflix says:
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        @Son: MonkaS

  5. Joel

    Joel says:
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    Sup Son? You liking Soler or Alen Hanson ROS? I mean obviously you’re not loving Soler…

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @Joel: It’s not that I hate Soler or anything. I’m just fading him from continuing to produce at these lofty levels. I do like Hansen. He’s athletic, a switch hitter, and has speed. With that said, I prefer Soler. Has more pop, experience, and plate discipline. Plus, he seems entrenched higher in the batting order on a better O in a slightly better ballpark and division

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