Jorge Soler and Avisaíl García were supposed to be huge improvements for the 2022 Marlins’ lineup. Overall, the team is off to a better offensive start than 2021—they have a 103 wRC+ through the first 31 games compared to a 87 wRC+ through the same period last year.
However, Soler and García have had very little to do with that. They entered Wednesday with a 0.4 bWAR and -0.2 bWAR, respectively. The Marlins devoted most of their offseason spending to the pair of veteran outfielders with the expectation that they would be everyday players, which has made their underperformance impossible to ignore.
Soler has been the most productive one of the two. The World Series MVP is slashing .178/.271/.347 with five doubles, five homers, 14 runs batted in, 10 runs, 14 walks, 38 strikeouts, and a .618 OPS. Soler’s production has been better against lefty pitchers as you can see below:
- Soler vs. RHP: .181/.269/.301, .570 OPS, 5 RBI
- Soler vs. LHP: .167/.286/.500, .786 OPS, 9 RBI
Soler is not the best contact hitter and definitely won’t hit for a high average. But his solid career slash line (.242/.328/.460/.788), his typically normal .293 BABIP (compared to .213 as a Marlins), and his above-average 90.2 exit velocity average suggest he should be better soon.
Regarding García, he’s been unrecognizable if we compare him to last year’s self. He actually might be having the worst start of his career. After 27 games, Avisaíl is a .204/.241/.291 hitter with an awful 32/3 K/BB ratio. Coming off a 29-homer, 86-RBI campaign, García had only gone deep once with four ribbies in 2022 prior to mashing this long but meaningless three-run shot on Wednesday.
García’s 29.6 strikeout percentage is the worst of his career by far. He’s struggling to hit everything that is not a fastball:
García vs. breaking pitches: .104 BA, .125 SLG, 15 SO, 48 PA
García vs. offspeed pitches: .143 BA, .286 SLG, 4 SO, 9 PA
His latest homer was indeed against a 94 mile-per-hour fastball.
At the top of the list of adjustments that García has to make, he should begin with being more patient at the plate. This year, the 30-year-old outfielder is being as aggressive as ever but with the lowest contact percentage of his career (62.2%). Among qualified major leaguers, only Chris Taylor of the Dodgers is missing the ball more frequently.
Look at how García is putting himself in a position to fail in the batter’s box:
2022: Chase%: 44.4 | 1st-pitch swing %: 59.2 | Swing %: 63.9 | Whiff %: 38.9
Career: Chase%: 38.6 | 1st-pitch swing %: 46.8 | Swing %: 57.6 | Whiff %: 32.4
García and Soler are both quality hitters who need to produce so that the Marlins can win more consistently. Their stats suggest that adjustments can help them improve in the short run. Soler had two home runs on the last road trip and García is carrying a five-game hitting streak. That brings hope to Marlins fans who are anxious to see what these two can do at the peak of their powers.