ATLANTA – When Jorge Soler of Cuba returned from the COVID-19 inactive list last week, the Braves didn’t have a spot in their starting lineup. But the gunner appears to be the ideal candidate to be the designated hitter in the World Series against the Astros.
American League champion Houston has home-court advantage, so Atlanta will be able to employ Soler as the BD in the Fall Classic during Games 1 and 2, and if necessary Games 6 and 7. The designated hitter It will not be for any of the games that would be played in Atlanta.
By turning to Soler as the designated hitter, the Braves could once again count on his power in the lineup without the handicap of his defensive limitations on the prairies. He did a good job as a right fielder, but he doesn’t have the same capabilities as Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall, who served as the trio in the Atlanta woods during the National League Championship Series.
Soler was the Braves’ starting outfielder from coming to the club from the Royals on July 30 until testing positive for COVID on October 12, just hours before the decisive Game 4 of the Division Series against the Brewers.
After the Braves made the daring decision to lead Soler on Sept. 20, the gunner responded with a .365 on-base percentage and a .947 OPS in the last 11 games of the regular season. He went 11-1 with two walks traded in all three SDLN games he played before testing positive.
Soler apologized for defrauding his team by not getting vaccinated, a decision that also cost him his spot in the Atlanta team’s lineup.
When Soler returned to the Braves roster for the Championship Series on Thursday, he did not replace Rosario, who was the MVP and produced a 1,313 OPS in the postseason, nor Pederson, who again faced key hits in October. . Duvall has not excelled with the bat, but he is the best alternative in the central meadow.
Therefore, Soler will need to seize the opportunity to play as BD. Rosario’s success as a leadoff hitter would keep him in that role, unless Soler tops the lineup with Astros southpaw Framber Valdez as the Game 1 starter.
There is also an argument that suggests Soler is a better fit as leadoff hitter because putting Rosario alongside Freddie Freeman at the top of the lineup makes Atlanta more vulnerable against left-handed relievers.
Soler hit just .192 with 13 homers and a .658 OPS in 360 plate appearances for Kansas City this year. He hit .269 with 14 homers and an .882 OPS in 242 at-bats at Atlanta. The 14.9 at-bats per home run rate he has produced with the Braves was at least somewhat similar to the 12.3 at-bats per home run he had when he hit 48 home runs for the Monarchs in 2019.
Although Soler has the potential to knock down opponents with his power, his most impressive production in Atlanta came through plate discipline. With the Royals this year, he had a walk-through rate of 10.6% and a strikeout rate of 26.9%. After joining the Braves, he had a walking rate of 12% and a strikeout rate of 18.6%.
Now, the Braves are hoping Soler will get back to the pace he had in the regular season. His double in the eighth inning of Game 6 against Kenley Jansen on Saturday definitely gave a taste of what he could offer in the World Series.
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Soler with an opportunity to impact as BD