HOUSTON – Jorge Soler, who was hitting .192 for a second-to-last-place team in his division after four months into the season, was the MVP of the World Series, won by the Atlanta Braves, a team that played below .500 when the All-Star break came.
The least thought of MVP of an unlikely title in any other sport except baseball, the most illogical, uncontrollable, and wonderful of sports.
Soler hit a three-run home run in the third inning to lead the Braves, who crushed the Houston Astros 7-0 at Minute Maid Park Tuesday in Game 6 of the fall classic for their first championship since 1995.
First baseman Freddie Freeman and shortstop Dansby Swanson also hit home runs, left-hander Max Fried threw six innings of four hits and six strikeouts, left-hander Tyler Matzek hit two zeros, and closer Will Smith made his fourth runless appearance in the series and he finished the postseason with 11 scoreless innings, helping the Braves grab their fourth ever title and their second in Atlanta.
The Braves barely outscored the Astros 25-20 in runs and 48-45 in hits, but hit 11 home runs against just two from Houston.
“Surreal. I spent the whole game without allowing myself, especially when we were scoring runs, without letting myself get ahead of myself because I knew how quickly things can change, ”said Brian Snitker, the Atlanta manager.
“It’s really nice. Really good. Yes, not even in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be sitting here talking to you, “added the pilot.
Soler hit .300 with three home runs and six RBIs to become the second Cuban to be selected MVP in a World Series. Right-hander Liván Hernández did it with the Florida Marlins in 1997.
“It means a lot to me, to my family, to the organization, and it’s something really special,” said Soler, the seventh non-US-born player to hit three home runs in a World Series, joining fellow countrymen Randy Arozarena (2020). , and Tany Pérez (1975); the Dominicans Juan Soto and Albert Pujols (2011), the Venezuelan Pablo Sandoval (2012) and the Japanese Hideki Matsui (2009).
His home run off Luis Garcia, a 446-foot hit that ran over the railroad track set 90 feet above the left-field fence, is one of the longest in Minute Maid Park’s 21-year history.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, since 2006, when the major league home runs began to be accurately measured, the Astros have hit 90 home runs of 440 feet or more, including eight in 2021. The numbers they include regular series and playoffs.
“I knew I hit it good, but to be honest, immediately after hitting the ball, I turned around just to look at our dugout and start celebrating. So I really didn’t see her disappear completely, ”Soler said.
The odds of Atlanta winning the championship and the outfielder and designated hitter finishing MVP were slim to none by midseason. The 29-year-old Soler hit 48 home runs for the Kansas City Royals two years ago, but this season he was hitting .192 with 13 homers when he was traded to the Braves on the July 31 trading deadline.
“I got off to a rocky start at the beginning of the season and I felt like I started to warm up a little bit before the trade deadline,” said Soler, who hit .269 with 14 home runs in two months at Atlanta. “They moved me here, and at first it was a challenge. I felt a bit out of my comfort zone. He didn’t really know people. It was a bit difficult to go to a new place and get to know everyone, ”he added.
“In a week, I felt like home. Everyone in that dressing room welcomed me and I instantly felt, after a while, like family, “said Soler.
Atlanta, which started the year as a title favorite but practically fell off the radar when he lost to injuries to Venezuelan superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and starting pitcher Mike Soroka and to injury and an off-field episode to Dominican slugger Marcell Ozuna, had to make several movements to compensate with quantity the quality of the missing pieces.
In addition to Soler, Atlanta (44-45 in the first half) added fellow outfielders Joc Pederson (from the Chicago Cubs), Adam Duvall (from the Miami Marlins) and Puerto Rican Eddie Rosario (from the Cleveland Indians).
All those players, plus locals Freeman, Swanson, 2B Ozzie Albies and 3B Austin Riley, mainly, played a star role in the transformation of the club, which did not get to a winning record until August 6, the furthest away for an eventual World Series winner.
“I really can’t believe it. I never imagined this would come this year. Life gives you surprises, ”said Rosario, who posted a .903 OPS in 33 games with Atlanta after putting in .685 in 78 games with Cleveland. “I wanted it very much and I earned it. I worked for this, ”said Rosario, who was MVP of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Atlanta and the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals are the only negative mid-season teams to lift the Commissioner’s Trophy. The Braves’ 88 wins to conquer the NL East represent the fourth fewest in a normal season for a monarch.
To lift the crown, they had to eliminate the Milwaukee Brewers and their extraordinary pitching, then the Dodgers, last year’s champion and a team that won 106 games during the regular season, and finally, the Astros, a star-laden ninth. who reached the World Series for the third time in five years and was a wide favorite.
“I am still numb. I really have no emotions. I’m trying to tell you things about how I feel because I still don’t feel anything. Soon it’s going to hit me hard. I do not know when. Maybe that’s when we can see everyone in Atlanta, ”said Freeman, a five-time All-Star and MVP of the 2020 National League who will be a free agent for the first time in his career later this week.
“We all come to spring training in February with high hopes every year, and year after year, it never happened. This year it was unlikely. In my opinion, we lost the best player in the National League in July. The next day, Ian [Anderson] he had an MRI during the All-Star break, “Freeman added about the obstacles the Braves had to jump.
“We hit every pothole, every pothole that you can possibly hit this year, and somehow the car still made it to the other side. It is just an amazing group. What Alex did [Anthopoulos, el gerente general] During the trade deadline, we’ve been the best team since the trade deadline and we played like this until the postseason. We just warmed up and we didn’t stop, ”Freeman said.