Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jorge soler watching ball goAll things considered, I think this has been a successful rookie campaign for Jorge Soler. No, the bat hasn’t performed at the extremely level it did when he first came up last year, no, the defense hasn’t always been solid, yes, he missed time with another leg injury, yes, he’s battled strikeout issues (though the zone has never helped him), and yes, the power has been suspiciously lacking. But, overall, in a first full year in the big leagues, with as little pro experience as he has, I’m still pretty heartened by Soler’s .270/.329/.388 line with a 7.4% BB rate and 30.0% K rate.

But, yeah, that ISO jumps out at you, doesn’t it? A mere .118 for a guy as big and strong as Soler – with that many strikeouts – and who hits the ball as hard as he does. It’s odd.

As he showed in the finale against the White Sox, he definitely still has power. Look at this opposite field shot off of closer David Robertson:

Love this read from Tony Andracki on Jorge Soler’s lack of power this year. There’s nothing in there that will surprise you – Soler absolutely destroys the ball, but because of his swing path, he doesn’t get the necessary lift for homers and deep flies – but it’s very interesting to see folks discussing it.

I think about Soler’s strange combination of power-but-no-“power” quite a bit. I don’t know enough about swing mechanics to diagnose and offer thoughts on a correction, but I do know enough about young players with incredible raw gifts to say that I’d bet on him having a huge “power” breakout eventually.

You have to remember that this is a guy who is just 23, has played so little professional ball over the last four years, and has not had extensive stateside instruction for very long. Because of the talent (and possibly his contract), Soler made the big leagues very quickly, and then he had to focus on the normal adjustments a young hitter has to make – identifying spin, commanding the zone, working into hitters’ counts, making strong contact, etc. Developing in-game power comes later for many youngsters, and that could be especially true for Soler, given his unique path.

Notice, by the way, that the pitch on that homer was elevated – I suspect pitchers continuously going low on Soler has been a big part of the power story, too. Also notice that Soler actually didn’t hit the ball all that hard – just 98mph, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, which is low for his harder hit balls – but it got plenty of loft.

In the end, there’s no hardline conclusion here. Just a discussion about something we’ve all noticed and kicked around our heads this year. Like I said above, I’d still bet on him having a big power breakout eventually.

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