Whenever the Atlanta Braves needed a big blast in this World Series, outfielder Jorge Soler seemed to give it to them.
The veteran outfielder, whom the Braves acquired at the MLB trade deadline, clubbed his third go-ahead home run of the series Tuesday night in the clinching Game 6 win over the Houston Astros — sending it soaring over the train tracks at Minute Maid Park.
Soler’s clutch hitting – and 1.191 OPS – made him the obvious choice as the 2021 World Series’ Most Valuable Player.
After missing the first four games of the National League championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers after testing positive for COVID-19, Soler returned to the Braves’ starting lineup in Game 1 against the Astros and set the tone for the series with a leadoff homer in a 6-2 win.
In Game 4, he came off the bench in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie with a pinch-hit homer that just cleared the left-field fence.
Then in the clincher Tuesday night, Soler’s mammoth three-run shot off Astros starter Luis Garcia broke a scoreless tie and helped send the Braves to a 7-0 victory.
“I was just really focused during that at-bat,” Soler said through his interpreter Franco Garcia. “I feel like he had thrown me every pitch that he had in his arsenal, so I just kept fouling the pitches off, eventually got into that 3-2 count and he hung the slider and I was able to drive it.”
The man who has the words “Soler Power” inscribed on his cleats tied a franchise record for home runs in a single postseason series — one set by Henry Aaron in the 1957 World Series and tied by Aaron again in 1969, Lonnie Smith in 1991, Marquis Grissom and Ryan Klesko in 1995, and Eddie Rosario in this year’s NLCS.
“We’ve known what he can do for so long. I mean, two years ago he’s hitting (48) homers,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said postgame. “It’s actually pretty incredible what he did in the World Series, getting COVID in the NLCS and missing ten days and then coming back and not missing a beat. That’s hard to do in this game.”
Soler becomes just the second Cuban-born player, following Livan Hernandez of the Florida Marlins in 1997, to earn World Series MVP honors.