The Atlanta Braves are the deserving World Series champions after blanking the Houston Astros by a score of 7-0 in Game 6 of the Fall Classic.
That way, they took the best-of-seven series, 4-2, against one of the top American League teams.
The 88-win Braves fought hard to make the playoffs after a rough first half, filled with injuries, controversies, and underperforming stars.
They were, by win-loss record, the worst division winner in baseball.
However, they played admirably when it mattered the most: the playoffs.
The victory against the Astros was particularly impressive, and it wouldn’t have been possible without an unsung hero: Jorge Soler.
An Impressive Power Display
Soler, who took home World Series MVP honors, put on an impressive power display, with three home runs and an impressive .300/.391/.800 line.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) November 3, 2021
His OPS during the Fall Classic was 1.191, he drove in six runs and scored four.
He had perhaps the most important hit of the night on Tuesday, during Game 6.
In the top of the third, with the game tied 0-0, Astros starter Luis Garcia had two outs, but also two runners on the basepaths.
Soler sent a ball deep into left field for a long three-run homer, and the ball appeared to leave the stadium.
That gigantic dinger set the tone for the Braves and gave them a 3-0 advantage.
SOLER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING. pic.twitter.com/IOc5wXreRb
— MLB (@MLB) November 3, 2021
Two more home runs, by Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson, and a run-scoring double by Freeman was all Atlanta needed to beat Houston because starter Max Fried was on his game, allowing no runs in six innings.
Soler was a deserving MVP because he led the Braves in OPS, home runs, RBI, and extra-base hits.
He was a consistent power threat after missing most of the National League Championship Series.
And to think that he was an afterthought with another franchise before landing in Atlanta in late July.
The slugger was acquired from the Kansas City Royals around the trade deadline.
He was languishing there, struggling to have any kind of consistency.
Soler was hitting .192/.288/.370 with 13 homers in 308 plate appearances, and a putrid .658 OPS.
The Braves Resurrected His Season
All of them were huge both in the second half and the playoffs.
In the specific case of Soler, he slashed .269/.358/.524 with 14 homers and a .882 OPS in 208 plate appearances.
It’s evident that getting out of Kansas City and moving to Atlanta, a contending team with clear playoffs aspirations, helped rejuvenate him.
Then the playoffs came, and he really didn’t have a good Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers, with one hit, a double, in 11 at-bats.
Then he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and missed most of the Championship Series against the Dodgers.
But he returned, and was the most valuable Brave in the World Series victory.
Let’s not forget that, besides his huge Game 6 homer, he hit the go-ahead dinger in the seventh inning of Game 4 to lift the Braves to a 3-2 victory, one that helped them get a commanding 3-1 series lead at the time.