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Four months into this MLB season, Jorge Soler was hitting .192 for a Kansas City Royals team that finished 74-88.
Now, he is not just a World Series champion, but the World Series MVP after hitting .300/.391/.800 with three homers in the Braves' six-game win over the Houston Astros.
— MLB (@MLB) November 3, 2021
The Atlanta Braves slugger became the second Cuban-born player after Liván Hernández in 1997 to take home MLB's top individual postseason honor. He got there via a display of power that left a mark both in the history books and Houston's ozone layer.
The latter came in the third inning of Tuesday's series-clinching Game 6, when Soler hit a three-run home run off Astros starter Luis Garcia to open the game's scoring. Soler started celebrating on contact, pointing to the Braves dugout and patting his chest:
The Statcast numbers bear out what was already clear: Soler absolutely destroyed that baseball. He hit it 109.6 mph with a 27-degree launch angle and watched it fly 446 feet, over the train tracks at Minute Maid Park. The expected batting average on such balls is 1.000. It was Pujols-ian. Soto-ian.
The homer was only the latest highlight for Soler, though, as he had also hit a leadoff homer in Game 1, the first such in MLB history, and a pinch-hit, go-ahead homer in Game 4. The Braves won four games in this series, and Soler had a go-ahead homer in three of them:
3+ go-ahead HRs in one World Series:
Babe Ruth, 1926
Lou Gehrig, 1928
Gene Tenace, 1972
Curtis Granderson, 2015
George Springer, 2017
Jorge Soler, 2021
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) November 3, 2021
Few saw that kind of performance coming from Soler when the Braves acquired him from the Royals at this year's trade deadline. True, Soler had won the American League home run title in 2019 and a World Series title in 2016 with the Chicago Cubs, but he had hit .204 in the time since and may have had his best baseball behind him at the age of 29.
Soler responded by looking like his 2019 self as soon as he joined the Braves, hitting .269/.358/.524 with 14 homers in 55 games as the team surged to an unlikely NL East title.
Incredibly, Soler is just one of four outfielders to ball out after being acquired by Atlanta for cheap at the deadline. ALCS MVP Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall all delivered big hits for the Braves during their title run, but none were bigger, literally and figuratively, than Soler's.