Sunday, August 29, 2021
Part of a complete outfield makeover at the trade deadline, the Braves acquired Jorge Soler from the Royals in exchange for prospect reliever Kasey Kalich. The transaction was a bit questionable at the time, especially considering the 29-year-old’s struggles at the plate to date. But Atlanta believed in Soler’s bat. And despite underwhelming overall numbers, it’s a damn good thing they made the move.
In just a short span so far in an Atlanta uniform, Soler has already made a huge impression as a clutch hitter. And the slugging outfielder’s most clutch performance yet came just this past Friday in the team’s win over the Giants.
By the time Soler touched home plate, after absolutely murdering this ball by the way, the Braves win-expectancy advantage grew to 87-13, a swing of 31% in just an instant. It may not have been the biggest play of the 2021 season for the Braves, but it’s pretty impressive just how many times Soler has come through when its mattered most, given he’s played only 23 games with the team so far.
To put into perspective, in the span of just several weeks, six of Soler’s 15 biggest WPA events this season have taken place while in Atlanta, with his most-recent one leading the way.
I mean, the samples are of course incredibly small, but just check out Soler’s numbers as a Brave in both High Leverage and Medium Leverage situations combined so far…
7 for 28 (.250 AVG), 2 HR, 9 RBI, 129 wRC+, 45.8 Hard%
This comes after he hit just .167 and posted a 65 wRC+ in 150 AB in those same situations as a Royal this season. The fact that he’s seemed to of flip a switch in the clutch with the Braves could mean his recent success is maybe unsustainable; although it could also mean perhaps he just enjoys delivering for Atlanta.
Regardless, there’s something definitely special about Soler and his time so far as a Braves hitter. Hell, just look at his overall numbers with each team this year…
Soler w/KCR – 94 G, .192 AVG, 13 HR, 80 wRC+, 26.9 K%, -1.0 fWAR
Soler w/ATL – 23 G, .274 AVG, 6 HR, 146 wRC+, 17.3 K%, 0.3 fWAR
Maybe it lasts… and maybe it won’t. But even though the addition didn’t seem too significant at the time, Soler has been quite a blessing since coming over from Kansas City. And his ability to come through in the clutch has been one of the many reasons Atlanta is once again playing great baseball.