SF Giants power-hitting DH is off to a slow start, but struggles can be fixed

Jorge Soler has struggled in his first few months in the city by the bay and his underlying numbers point out why.
Los Angeles Angels v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

SF Giants DH Jorge Soler is hardly the first player to struggle when arriving on a new team. As recently as last season, we saw Trea Turner get off to a horrendous start to his Phillies tenure before turning it around. This year, we have seen Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery struggle in their inaugural seasons with their new clubs.

SF Giants power-hitting DH is off to a slow start, but struggles can be fixed

However, the Giants have Soler for the next two additional seasons and they need to start seeing signs of life from his powerful bat. Taking a deeper dive into Soler's tendencies points to a trend that should be fixable. Swing less at pitches outside of the strike zone.

The pressures of being the fourth hitter on a team with playoff aspirations in your first year with the club can be a lot to take on and Soler has shown that the pressure has got to him. The walk rate for Soler has dropped from 11.4 percent to a career-worst 9.9 percent.

Every expected stat has dropped below last season's production level and the hard-hit percent has dropped by 11.5 percent. All of these numbers are very concerning but it's when we delve deeper into the pitch-specific stats where we start to see the reasoning behind the struggles.

Soler has a +6 run value against fastballs in each of the last three seasons including 2024. However, he has failed to have a positive run value against sliders or curve balls in any of the last three years. But if it has been consistent over the last three years then why is there a good season mixed in with two mediocre ones?

The chase rate and swing percent will give you your answer. In 2019 and 2023, the two best seasons of Soler's career, he managed a chase rate in the 80th percentile and 72nd percentile, respectively.

Furthermore, he had a swing rate of 44.1 percent in both seasons. In 2024, Soler has a chase rate in the 44th percentile and a swing percent of 47.2. In his good seasons, Soler was taking sliders and curveballs while attacking the fastball. This season, he is swinging more and more at the slider and curveball on the outer half and it's killing his numbers.

The fix for the power-hitting DH is simple. Be good at what you are good at. The man can hit dead red fastballs as good or better than most MLB hitters but struggles with breaking pitches. He must return to attacking fastballs and taking anything offspeed on the outer half. Soler's success against change-ups and fastballs suggests that he struggles reading the spin on the ball. The suggestion is simple, slow and away, let it stay, if it's quick and straight, separate and elevate.

Soler seems to be turning the corner. He has registered a .900 OPS with two home runs and six RBI in 55 plate appearances in June. It is a small sample, but an encouraging sign for a Giants lineup that could use some extra offensive production.