I didn’t get a chance to write my Royals Recap last night, but I was able to watch and follow the game. Holy smokes! A 4-2 win! And against a good team too that was over .500 at the time! And against a good pitcher who was dealing this year! Hey, maybe the Royals are on their way in terms of turning this thing around?
#SolerPower (DH of the future?)
After homering (and near homering) in the finale of the White Sox series at Guaranteed Rate Field, Jorge Soler once again flexed his big-time home run stroke, this time in the Texas heat.
Soler’s power really is unbelievable and something to behold. He has tremendous bat speed, and when he connects with the ball, there aren’t many hitters in baseball today that can hit the ball harder or faster. Take a look at the dynamics of Soler’s home run last night in Texas.
One of the changes in Soler’s role this season has been Ned Yost’s decision to primarily use him as the Royals’ designated hitter. Soler made his name as an outfielder with a rocket arm, but Soler has struggled to stay healthy over his career, and his range has been questioned by some. Considering Kauffman’s spacious outfield, and the fact that the defense needs to pick up this pitching on frequent occasion, it makes sense to put Soler in a DH role, and equip the Royals outfield with speed and strong glove play with Gordo in left, Hamilton in center, and Whit in right. Furthermore, the numbers for Soler in the DH role actually may justify Ned keeping him in that role for the remainder of the season, even when Duda returns from injury. Let’s take a look at his offensive numbers as a RF this year, and his numbers as a DH.
Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+ as RF 31 125 113 13 28 5 0 7 17 0 0 8 42 .248 .304 .478 .782 54 5 .318 97 95 as DH 25 104 98 14 24 8 0 7 22 0 1 6 26 .245 .288 .541 .829 53 2 .262 104 111Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
All the numbers suggest that Soler is more productive as a DH than a RF. Maybe it’s just coincidental, of course. Maybe Soler likes playing the OF, and his numbers will regress the more at-bats he gets (Gary Sheffield famously did not like being a DH). But at the end of the day, the Royals need his bat, and with Nicky Lopez up, and Whit adding value in the OF, Yost needs to keep Soler as the Royals DH for the future…not just this season, but even beyond.
Jakob Junis was dealing last night against a good offensive team in a tough pitcher’s environment. Take a look at Junis’ line:
6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, 2 HR (96 pitches).
Junis has the potential to be one of the Royals better pitchers in the rotation. He has the third highest K/9 out of the starting pitchers (behind Homer Bailey and Jorge Lopez), and his K/BB ratio (2.44) is actually the best of any regular starter (only Glenn Sparkman has a better K/BB ratio, but he’s mostly been a reliever, so I want to see a few more starts before I consider his K/BB ratios legitimate). As said before on this blog, K/BB ratio usually is a sign of command: the higher the K/BB ratio, the better the command; the lower the K/BB ratio, the harder it is for that pitcher to throw it where he wants.
Of course, with an above-average K/BB ratio for a starter (2.00 is usually the baseline), one would think Junis’ command is spot on…except that it totally isn’t. The main issue with Junis is that when he makes mistakes, they result in the long ball, which kills his overall stat line. His 1.60 HR/9 is the third-highest currently out of Royals starting pitchers, and the two above him are no longer in the Royals rotation (Heath Fillmyer and Jorge Lopez). Him giving up the long ball usually correlates with how he is locating his breaking stuff, especially his slider. When he is locating his breaking stuff and/or hitters are chasing, Junis looks like the best pitcher on the staff, as evidenced below:
However, when he is not locating the breaking ball, it hangs up in the zone, which is just meat for Major League hitters. Shin Soo Choo made him pay early on for his mistake.
There is a lot to like about Junis, and he has the potential to be a mainstay in the Royals rotation for the next 2-3 seasons if he can find some consistency. Let’s see if this is the start of a run of success for Junis in 2019, or if this is just an outlier on what has been a pretty mediocre season for him thus far (5.35 ERA).