Braves slugger Jorge Soler wins World Series MVP

The MVP Jorge Soler holds his trophy after beating the Astros in game 6 to win the World Series on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Houston.   “Curtis Compton /”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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The MVP Jorge Soler holds his trophy after beating the Astros in game 6 to win the World Series on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Houston. “Curtis Compton /”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

HOUSTON – The Braves’ second World Series MVP since moving to Atlanta was a designated hitter.

Slugger Jorge Soler was named most valuable player Tuesday night after the Braves defeated the Astros 7-0 in Game 6 to secure their championship. Soler, acquired at the July 31 trade deadline from Kansas City, joins left-hander Tom Glavine as World Series MVPs for the Atlanta-era Braves.

“It means a lot to me, to my family, to the organization, and it’s something really special,” Soler said via team interpreter Franco Garcia.

Soler won the award after hitting three home runs in the series. He became the first player to homer in the first plate appearance of Game 1 of the Fall Classic when he belted a shot into the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park.

Soler followed with the game-winning homer in Game 4. Shortstop Dansby Swanson and Soler went back-to-back to give the Braves a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Soler topped his performance with a three-run shot Tuesday that snapped a scoreless tie in the third inning.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos assembled one of the great trade deadlines in MLB history, acquiring four outfielders in July who helped the Braves surge into first place and beyond. Soler was among those additions.

Soler was hitting .192 for the Royals, enduring a disappointing season that resulted in Kansas City trading him to the Braves for right-handed pitching prospect Kasey Kalich. Soler had played better recently at that time, hitting six homers in his last nine games with the Royals, but what followed was a pleasant surprise.

Soler hit .269 with an .882 OPS over 55 games with the Braves. He slugged 14 homers with 33 RBIs, eventually getting moved to leadoff for his production. Soler impressed with his plate discipline, increasing his walk rate and cutting down his strikeouts.

“I got off to a rough start at the beginning of the season, and I felt like I started to heat up a little bit before the trade deadline,” Soler said. “I was traded over here, and it was challenging at first. I felt a little out of my comfort zone. I didn’t really know people. It was kind of tough to go to a new place and start making those acquaintances and everything.

“Within a week, I felt right at home. Everyone in that clubhouse welcomed me in, and it felt instantly, after a little while, just like a family. It’s top to bottom, from the entire organization since I joined, I always felt extremely welcome here.”

While Soler missed the end of the National League Division Series and the beginning of the NL Championship Series with COVID-19, he returned with a vengeance. He hit .318 (7-for-22) over his last eight postseason games, including a .300 (6-for-20) mark in the World Series.

“Wait until you see that smile; it’s a beautiful smile,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said of Soler. “We’ve known what he can do for so long. I mean, two years ago he’s hitting 50 homers. 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 is a free agent this winter. It’s unclear what his future holds, but he’s forever a Braves icon, someone who will be remembered throughout Atlanta sports history.

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