Atlanta is celebrating and it’s in large part due to Jorge Soler, the baseball player from Havana, Cuba, who won the MVP of the 2021 World Series.
Soler’s World Series performance couldn’t have started any better. In his first at-bat — the first of the entire series — the Cuban connected the third pitch of the Dominican Framber Valdez, sending a home run that meant the first run of the series. The hit was historic because never before had a baseball player hit a home run in the first at-bat of a World Series.
From then on, Soler was unbeatable with the bat, giving up 6 hits in 20 at-bats, hitting three homers, driving in 6 runs, scoring 4 and reaching first base on three bad balls. His slugging percentage was 300, much higher than what he averaged three months earlier in his previous team, Kansas City, where he batted for a low 192.
Jorge Soler’s other two homers came at vital moments in the series. The second was in the fourth game, when his teammate, Dansby Swanson, tied the duel against the Astros 2-2 with a homer in the seventh inning. The Cuban, who came in as designated hitter after Swanson’s turn, was merciless with the Astros and hit another home run to turn the game around and make it 3-1 in the series.
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His third home run came in the decisive sixth game, against the Astros’ Venezuelan starter, Luis García, in the top of the third inning. His homer drove in three runs and paved the way for Atlanta to clinch the series for good.
Historic three home runs for Jorge Soler
Soler, who was in doubt to play in the World Series because he contracted Covid-19 weeks ago, was acquired by the Atlantean Braves mid-season; with his three home runs, the Cuban became the seventh player born outside the United States to reach the figure of three home runs in a World Series. The other six are his compatriots Randy Arozanera (2020) and Tany Pérez (1975), Venezuelan Pablo Sandoval (2012), Japanese Hideki Matsui (2009) and Dominicans Juan Soto and Albert Pujos (2011).
“It means a lot to me, to my family, to the organization, and it’s something really special,” said Soler, about joining the select list of home run hitters.
The Braves Atlante outfielder became only the second Cuban in the history of Major League Baseball to win the MVP award in a World Series. The first to do so was Marlins pitcher Liván Hernández, who won the award in 1997.
Jorge’s MLB career began in 2014, with the Chicago Cubs, a team where the Cuban had a secondary, although important, role in the 2016 World Series where The Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in 7 games cutting a streak of more than a century without titles. Soler then went on to Kansas City, a franchise where he stayed for 5 years before moving to the Atlanta Braves.
ESPN described Jorge Soler’s feat as unthinkable, since the Cuban, beyond his defensive talent and strength at bat, had not been having a great batting season, but that is precisely where the imponderables of the sport come in, which in the end generate great stories. Statistics, in short, are nothing more than numbers that are there to be broken. Soler shattered them, won the MVP and was fundamental for the Atlanta Braves to win the World Series after a 26-year drought.