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Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JORGE SOLER OUTFIELER CHICAGO CUBS

When the Chicago Cubs called up top outfield prospect in 2014, the hype meter was already well into overdrive concerning the Cuban after he hit a combined 14 home runs in just 236 at-bats at three levels in the minor leagues.  Soler was lauded for his natural power and with fellow Cubans becoming overnight stars such as Jose Fernandez, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, and Yasiel Puig, the thinking was that he would join that impressive list and become a top-end guy in short order.  After 5 home runs in just 97 debut at-bats with the Cubs in 2014, the stage was set for Soler to be a major sleeper candidate the following season in fantasy baseball drafts. 

That is just what happened with Soler last March as his giddy owners reached a few rounds early for the guy amid thoughts of at least 20-plus home runs and a high number of RBI with a solid average in a suddenly potent Chicago Cubs lineup.  Unfortunately Soler didn't seem to comprehend the memo as he struggled from the jump with a .247 April with just 2 home runs and things didn't get much better as the season went on as more hitting struggles ensued to go along with a DL stint.  By the end of the season, Soler's numbers were downright ugly as he finished with the following statistical line:

.262
10 HR
47 RBI
39 R
3 SB 

Not one category helped Soler's fantasy baseball owners and now we go into 2016 questioning how good he really is.  The hype has almost completely vanished here as well as Soler's early ADP has dropped sharply from 2015.  So is Soler the latest post-hype sleeper made good or will more issues ensure?  Let's try to get a better read on the guy. 

First of all Soler remains very young at the age of 24 and in fairness, he didn't get a heavy amount of minor league work to help prepare him for major league pitching.  That has to be weighed here as Soler was coming from Cuba where the levels there are on part with A-ball in the States.  So Soler might have just needed some more work before he could be counted on as a regular.  Still Soler has to take some blame for the ugly 30 percent K rate that should have sank his .262 average even lower.  Soler had a lucky .361 BABIP that helped ward off a complete horror show with the batting average however but we still have to worry more than a little about how bad he could end up there with neutral luck for 2016.  With the average likely to be ugly, it is important for Soler to hit for power and collect a high number of runs and RBI which he didn't do last season either.  10 home runs is not going to cut it and neither will a .399 SLG.  Soler must drive the ball better for 2016 or else many will conclude correctly that his power was not as advertised.  Finally, Soler is not a runner so he will not help at all in stolen bases to offset any average or power damage he inflicts on your squad this season.

When you put it all together, Jorge Soler looks like a big disappointment waiting to happen again for 2016.  The Cubs still have a crowded outfield after dealing away Chris Coghlan as Soler is joined by Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, and Dexter Fowler.  That means Soler better hit early on or he will be planted on the bench.  There is just too many bad signs here to make Soler to be anything more than a backup outfield on your roster. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .254 14 HR 55 RBI 46 R 4 SB 


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