Royals outfielder/designated hitter Jorge Soler surpassed Mike Moustakas as the franchise’s single-season home run king on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Soler, a native of Cuba, launched his 39th home run of the year, a towering three-run blast to left-center field with two outs, off a 2-2 pitch from Detroit Tigers left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris.
The home run traveled an estimated 431 feet. Soler, 27, surpassed his former teammate Moustakas’ mark of 38 home runs set in 2017. The Royals still have 23 games remaining this season after Tuesday night.
The Royals won 6-5 as Ryan O’Hearn hit a walk-off home run with one out in the ninth inning. Soler went 3 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs.
“Really proud of you buddy. Unbelievable accomplishment. It’s about time somebody broke this record,” said Moustakas, now an All-Star for the Milwaukee Brewers, in video message played by Fox Sports Kansas City.
“It’s an unbelievable accomplishment, what you did, especially after your injury last year. ... I’m just really excited that this happened to such a great guy. I wish you nothing best the best in the future. Love you.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-handed hitting Soler became the sixth player to hold the franchise’s single-season record as well as the first to break it at home since John Mayberry did it in 1975.
Soler has now hit nine home runs against the Tigers this season. He entered the night batting .417 with a .471 on-base percentage and a .950 slugging percentage against the Tigers this year.
Soler entered the night with a slash line of .251/.343/.533. His three-run home run on Tuesday night also gave him a team-best 100 RBIs this season.
Acquired in the trade that sent pitcher Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs in December 2016, Soler battled injuries that limited his production throughout his career. He played in just 61 games last season due to a broken bone in his foot.
This year, he’s played a career-high 139 games and good health has allowed him to enjoy his best offensive output in the majors.
“Soler didn’t have a tremendous amount of minor-league at bats,” Royals manager Ned Yost said prior to Tuesday’s game. “He had to get his at-bats in the big leagues. He continued to work. He continued to understand how to develop a game plan every single day, how to do his homework.
“He continued to work on pitch selection and pitch recognition out of the pitcher’s hand. Every time you see him argue with an umpire a little bit — he’s right every time. Umpires are wrong. Ninety-nine times out of 100, he’s right. He understands the strike zone that well.
“He’s done a great job of understanding that if they’re going to not throw me strikes, I’m going to not come out of my game. For the most part, he’s been really good at that.”