Chicago Cubs’ Jorge Soler remains determined to make impact
By Jake Misener
Due to a lingering oblique injury, there is still no timetable for Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler‘s return to action on the North Side.
For the last year-plus, the Chicago outfielder has, by and large, been a disappointment to fans, through no fault of his own.
Through his first 114 games in the big leagues, Soler has a .271/.326/.424 slash-line to go along with his 162-game averages of 12 home runs and 62 RBI. These are solid numbers for a player who is still just 23 years of age, but, for multiple reasons, fans want more.
Why, you may ask? It’s quite simple.
First, and foremost, Soler hasn’t performed to the level of other talented Cubs prospects like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. He’s paled in comparison to other young cornerstones, including Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, at times.
What most baseball fans don’t understand is that Bryant, Russell and Schwarber are elite prospects. They don’t grow on trees and, frankly, most young players don’t produce at such a high level right out of the gates.
Couple that fact with Soler’s repeated DL stints and you have a sure-fire recipe for discontent amongst hungry Cubs Nation.
His latest injury, which has been labeled as an oblique strain, has kept him out of action the past couple weeks and could cost him the majority of September, if the latest media reports prove accurate.
"“I’m really disappointed with myself,” Soler said. “This is the second time I’ve been on the disabled list, and it’s really late.”"
For the first time in years, the Cubs are playing meaningful games here in September and there’s no doubt that Soler brings a lot to the table for this young squad.
Anyone who has watched the Cuban outfielder at the plate knows that breaking pitches low-and-away have proven to be a thorn in his side during his brief time in the majors. And, while I believed he’d been better about it this year, statistics suggest otherwise.
Soler hasn’t hit for extra bases this season and is swinging and missing outside the zone much more than he did in 2014. What should fans expect moving forward?
Per Fangraphs, Soler has swung at pitches outside the zone just under 31 percent of the time this season – up three percent from his 2014 debut campaign. To make matters worse, he’s only making contact with pitches outside the strike zone 39.6 percent of the time – a drastic 15 percent decrease from last season.
We’ve seen his power numbers fade sharply from 2014 to 2015; he’s totaled just 26 extra-base hits in 343 at-bats this year as opposed to 14 XBH in less than 100 PA in 2014, so as most fans believe, there’s work to be done here.
Soler remains determined to make it back to the big league club before the season ends in early October. But if he is not 100 percent, expect the Cubs to rely on a mix of their current pieces to push them back into postseason baseball in the weeks to come rather than rush back Soler, who remains a work-in-progress.