The Comeback Kings: Jorge Soler and Mike Moustakas
In the season directly following a year of injuries, both Mike Moustakas and Jorge Soler broke the Kansas City Royals’ home run record. However, that is not all they have in common. In their record-breaking seasons, both were nominated as the American League Comeback Player of the Year. Both players had incredible years when they were nominated. Soler and Moustakas were and are very fun to watch but they could not be more different. Now is the time to compare their individual comeback seasons.
A Mike Moustakas Comeback Season
After tearing his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) only 27 games into the 2016 season Mike Moustakas was ready for a comeback. At the time of his injury, Moustakas only had 12 runs on 25 hits, 7 home runs, and a .301 OBP. Mike then spent the offseason training and getting stronger. Fans on social media all knew that when Moustakas came back, it would be in a big way. Several Kansas City Royals fan accounts on Twitter made it a game of projections, believing he would break the home run record at some point. Moustakas was primed for the comeback of a lifetime.
In 2017, 28-year-old Mike Moustakas broke Steve Balboni‘s organizational single-season home run record. However, it was not all Moustakas did that year. Moustakas was named to the 2017 All-Star team and even hit 25 of his 38 home runs in the first half. “Moose” was even a part of the Home Run Derby, being eliminated by Miguel Sano. As a whole, Moustakas had a great 2017 season: 151 hits, 75 runs scored, 85 RBIs, the record-breaking 38 home runs, a .272 batting average, and an .835 OPS. On top of the home runs, he hit personal milestones in a season with the most RBIs in a season as well as runs. It was also his second-most hits and second-highest batting average to date. Mike Moustakas had the type of year to gain interest from contenders. He was traded to the NLCS runner-up in 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Resurgence of Jorge Soler
Kansas City Royals fans and sports minds alike had written off Jorge Soler after two abysmal seasons in 2017 and 2018. In mid-June, Soler fractured a toe on his left foot that left him sidelined for the entire year. However, he came back in 2019 by playing all 162 games and was the difference-maker in a lot of Royals games this season. Soler not only hit the club’s most home runs but hit his own personal-best as well. 2019 was, by and large, his best season on record. He is the only Royal to ever hold the American League home run title – a path that was made even clearer with Mike Trout’s season-ending injury.
Soler broke Mike Moustakas’ home run record on September 3, 2019. Then, he went on to become the first Royals player to ever record at least 40 home runs in a single season on the very next night. Soler would go on to lead the American League with 48 home runs. That, however, would not be his only improvement on the year. Soler would end the 2019 season with a career-high in runs (95), hits (156), RBIs (117), walks (73), on-base percentage (.354), and OPS (.922) while also tying the second-highest batting average of his career (.265). “Soler Power” was surging through nearly all Royals fans. Every person upset about the front office trading away Wade Davis for Soler suddenly became a fan. Soler not only had a comeback on the field but in fans’ hearts as well.
Comparing Their Returns to Success
Both Jorge Soler and Mike Moustakas had to return from substantial injuries. Moustakas’ injury, however, was more severe. The differences do not end there. Moustakas was a well-established player before his injury. He was a World Series winner and a former All-Star. For Moustakas, it was not about making a name for himself but in reestablishing his power. He needed to return to form to preserve his career. Soler needed to establish an above-average career. He had the drive to add his name to the list of elite players in the game in 2019. Both achieved those goals and then some. Moustakas and Soler have been and will continue to be two of the most incredible players to watch in all of baseball.
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