This winter got kind of hectic. I edited a few books for Baseball Prospectus and lost track of time. A pandemic bailed me out.
It feels like a lifetime ago, but you do remember that Jorge Soler obliterated the Royals franchise record for home runs. He finished with 48. It was glorious.
Let’s jump back in.
30. The Game: 9/29 vs Minnesota Twins
The Victim: Martín Pérez
We kick off the top 30 with Soler’s final home run of 2019. It’s also the last home run in this countdown that doesn’t break 400 feet. Even though it was hit at an estimated 398 feet, Ryan LeFebvre had seen enough of these to know that it was gone. His nonchalant call underscores what had become the routine.
Except this season wasn’t really routine. It was a monstrous, continual show of power.
Think about this: There are still 29 homers to go in this countdown and all of them will land further than 400 feet from home plate. There was nothing cheap about Soler’s dinger binge. It was legit.
29. The Game: 9/7 @ Miami Marlins
The Victim: Héctor Noesí
This dinger came in the ninth inning of a beatdown. With an exit velocity of 109 mph and distance of 409 feet, it’s fairly pedestrian by Soler’s standards. But it ranks relatively high on this list for the sheer strength of Soler.
It’s a slider on the outer half of the plate that Soler reaches for and manages to pull to left-center. There’s nothing powerful or violent about the swing. It just works. The ball jumps. It’s not supposed to do that in that yard.
28. The Game: 5/30 @ Texas Rangers
The Victim: Mike Minor
There is something vicious about this homer. Mike Minor dodged Royal baserunners all evening, but through the first five innings, relied on getting strikeouts to escape any damage. Nursing a 1-0 lead, the sixth frame started in similar fashion with Minor allowing singles by Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Gordon.
Soler needed just one pitch.
A 91 mph fastball on the upper reaches of the zone and Soler yanked it down the left field line at 111 mph and off the foul pole.
As the Rangers’ broadcast noted, it was Soler’s 14th home run of the year which set a new career-high. That’s quaint.
27. The Game: 5/22 @ St. Louis Cardinals
The Victim: Michael Wacha
Look, we’re not above reveling in a little Cardinal angst here. This dinger capped a six-run third inning for the Royals.
This is a glorious clip. The sound of the bat punishing a baseball, the dejection of the Cardinal announcer and the silence of said announcer and stadium while Soler circles the bases.
26. The Game: 7/29 vs Cleveland Indians
The Victim: Tyler Clippard
Ever hang a 3-1 slider to Soler? No?
Want to see what happens when you do?
Yes. This was game where Trevor Bauer wanted to see if he could throw a ball as far as Soler could hit one.
25. The Game: 8/11 @ Detroit Tigers
The Victim: Daniel Norris
Soler hit two bombs on August 11. The second of which landed at #32 on the list. It was part of a barrage where he smashed six in a week.
There aren’t a lot of home runs hit to that part of Comerica Park.
24. The Game: 4/14 vs Cleveland Indians
The Victim: Neil Ramírez
We’re at the mid-way point on this list and this feels like a Very Soler Dinger™ to me.
A hanging slider that missed location badly (look at where catcher Roberto Pérez set up), a violent swing with a bit of an uppercut and a hitter with a desire for maximum damage...It’s all there. A 107 mph exit velocity. A 29 degree launch angle. And 420 feet from home plate. That was basically the average Soler home run in 2019.
23. The Game: 8/6 @ Boston Red Sox
The Victim: Andrew Cashner
Harkening back to entry #25 and Soler’s August home run spree and multi-dinger games, this was the one that kicked it off. His first blast of two against Cashner that night in Boston. (His second checked in at #36 on the list.)
Any home run that flies over the Monster is fun. Bonus fun for flying beyond the seats and entirely out of the yard.
And a final bonus point for Dennis Eckersley for describing Cashner’s fastball as “cheese.” Cheddar. Indeed.
22. The Game: 9/28 vs Minnesota Twins
The Victim: Tyler Duffey
Soler’s penultimate dinger of 2019 tied the game in the seventh against the Twins. The Royals would of course allow a run in the eighth to lose, because that’s how the season seemed to go, but that’s beside the point. Of Soler’s home runs, 22 either tied the game or gave the Royals the lead. They mattered. Even when the pitching couldn’t hold the other team in check.
21. The Game: 5/26 vs New York Yankees
The Victim: Domingo Germán
Soler got Germán twice in 2019. The first one wasn’t that impressive (as far as Soler bombs go) and ranked at #47 on our survey. This one, about five weeks later, was much better.
There is so much going on in this clip. Hunter Dozier had left the yard the pitch before Soler. The reaction of shortstop Gleyber Torres is fun. The ball lands 420 feet from home plate, atop the advertising signs beyond the left-center fountains. I sat in those seats above the fountains for the 2012 Home Run Derby. We didn’t sniff a dinger all night. And those guys were throwing batting practice.