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5/18/1984 (32 y, 9 m, 7 d)
2006 Rule 5 Draft - Round: 1, Pick: 2, Overall: 2, Team: Kansas City Royals
$25M / 3 Years (2016 - 2018) + 1 Option Years
Royals manager Ned Yost said he'll monitor Soria's usage more carefully, giving the reliever more rest between appearances, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports. (9/10/2016)
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(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
"The Mexicutioner" was sidelined with shoulder problems on a couple of occasions, but he was nastier than ever when he took to the mound. Soria's strikeout rate skyrocketed, and his 4.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the highest of his brilliant young career. When a batter did put the ball in play against Joakim, Kansas City's defense often let him down. The Royals ranked 25th in the majors in team Ultimate Zone Rating, which helps to explain Soria's near-.330 BABIP. As a former starter, the Rule 5 gem has an unusually deep mix of pitches for a reliever. His low-90s fastball remains effective, but he has gradually mixed in more curves, sliders, and change-ups. With hitters flailing at his secondary stuff, Soria induced swings on pitches out of the strike zone at a career-best 31% clip.
The Year Ahead:
Still just 25, Soria might be the best closer in the game not named "Rivera." He ranked fourth in Win Probability Added (a cumulative stat), despite missing a chunk of the spring due to injury. Soria posted the lowest contact rate of his big-league tenure, while also getting a first-pitch strike nearly 66% of the time. Though he tossed only 53 innings for the Royals, he ranked third on the pitching staff with 1.8 WAR. While that's partially a reflection of Kansas City's lousy starting pitching in non-Greinke starts, it's awfully difficult for a reliever to best starters pitching many more innings in a playing time-based stat like WAR. Keep an eye on the health of Soria's shoulder, but don't hesitate to invest a high draft pick if he has a clean bill of health. (David Golebiewski)
In the sabermetric community, there's a general consensus that closers are overvalued. In fantasy analysis, there seem to be multiple points of view. However you value closers in your league, Soria has to be among the best. He gets strikeouts, avoids walks, and doesn't have a particularly high fly-ball rate. One shouldn't expect any pitcher to maintain an ERA under 2.00, especially when the Royals defense is thrown into the equation, but Soria has done so two of the last three seasons. Soria's save opportunities are a bit lower because of the team he plays on, and he did have a bit of trouble with injuries in 2009, but that shouldn't keep him from being one of the top closers on fantasy draft lists for 2011. (Matt Klaassen)
The Quick Opinion:
Despite playing for the Royals, Soria is one of the top closers in both fantasy and real baseball.
Joakim Soria used be a nice buy-low closer candidate on draft day. His stock slowly rose and now he was considered to be an overrated closer. It is again time to buy low on him. He was fairly consistent from 2008 to 2010 with a near 2.00 ERA, ~10 strikeouts per nine and between 30 and 40 saves. In 2011, he messed around with a new pitch, a cutter, which he ended up using less as the season went on. In the first half of the season, he had a strikeout rate of 7.8 which is about two batters below his previous average. In the second half of the season, when he quit using the cutter, the K/9 number jumped to 10.9. Besides the drop in strikeouts, he also saw a career high in batting average on balls in play (.312) and home runs per fly ball (10.4%). For 2012, see him rebound to his previous form from 2008 to 2010 and expect a K/9 over nine with a near-two ERA and 30+ saves. Just make sure to check the radar gun to make sure his velocity does not decline further. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
Soria messed around with a cutter in the first half of 2011 and his stats declined. After he dropped it, he became the same great pitcher of old.
Soira is supposed to return to pitching full time around the start of the season. From 2007 to 2011 (min 200 innings pitches), his ERA and saves were in the top 10 among relievers. He has a complete arsenal of five pitches that can be used to get lefty and righty hitters out. His 2013 season could be all over the place because: he is coming back for his second Tommy John surgery, has a small frame and not many pitchers come back from their second surgery of that sort. Don't spend more than a buck or a late-round pick on him. Move him to the disabled list if you can, and wait for his fastball speed reports to see how hard he is throwing. Add him to the roster as needed. Be carefully to not overvalue him. He could eventually compete with Joe Nathan for the Texas' closer role -- or he could be done. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
Joakim Soria goes to Texas to begin pitching after his second Tommy John surgery.
Although Joakim Soria posted a respectable 3.80 ERA, his 2013 season should probably not be used to predict future returns. His near 14% walk rate can perhaps be explained away by the fact that he missed a year and a half to Tommy John surgery -- and his 28% strikeout rate exists as a reminder of his potential. Soria didn't make it back to the majors until July and he only pitched in 23.2 innings in the second half, fading in September and October in what could very well be a sample size so small so as to be ignored completely.The good news is his velocity
seemed to increase
as the year went on. Soria enters 2014 with a very real possibility of being the closer for the Texas Rangers with Joe Nathan leaving in free agency. Watch closely what the club decides to do with Neftali Feliz first, and then perhaps Tanner Scheppers second. Soria certainly has the experience and pedigree as he was once a dominant closer for the Kansas City Royals. Remember those days? (
The Quick Opinion:
Once a ninth inning force in Kansas City, Joakim Soria missed all of 2012 and part of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery and his results in the second half of 2013 were mixed. With Joe Nathan gone from Arlington, Soria has a chance to be a closer once again, but he'll likely compete with Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz in the spring. Keeping tabs on everyone's role will be important. Even if Soria does wind up closing, it's likely he'll be looking over his shoulder frequently as the Rangers have many options.
Soria inexplicably stopped striking batters out after the Tigers acquired him amidst desperation to patch up a sagging late-season bullpen, but all told the 30-year-old righty had a nice rebound campaign after missing all of 2012 and half of 2013 with Tommy John surgery. Soria fanned more than a batter an inning for the full year, walked just six batters all season long and still managed to pitch well despite not getting all of his pre-injury velocity back. Soria routinely sat 91-92 before he injured the arm, but was far more in the 90-91 range the past two seasons. His slider remains a weapon, and his curve is still pretty good too. With just a wobbly Joe Nathan in front of him for saves in an as-yet unremarkable Tigers bullpen, Soria is a definite stealth saves candidate, and one who should be high on the list in holds leagues -- especially since the Tigers project to have plenty of leads to hold again this season. Don't be surprised if Soria is closing by midseason, and if he takes the role and runs with it, is perhaps rewarded with a contract extension from a team desperate for some semblance of stability in the ninth inning. (Brandon Warne)
The Quick Opinion:
If Soria can vault a quickly-aging Joe Nathan for ninth-inning duties, he's going to be a highly-sought fantasy commodity. Keep an eye on him.
At the ripe age of 31, Joakim Soria picked up 1.8 miles per hour on his fastball. That's the largest velocity spike by any reliever who threw at least 40 innings in both 2014 and 2015. It's velocity he once had, before Tommy John Surgery, and then some. Sure, the velocity boost didn't come with an uptick in strikeouts, and Soria also walked more batters and gave up more homers, but maybe that's to be expected when coming off a season with peripherals as dominant as Soria's in 2014. He couldn't really have gotten much better. The extra velo doesn't make Soria a flamethrower -- he still averages just 92 with his heater -- but it gives him some room for error. If he gives a tick or two back, he won't be struggling to reinvent himself like so many other pitchers who begin to lose velocity on the wrong side of 30. No, if Soria loses a couple ticks of velocity, he'll be right back where he was a couple years ago, and Soria's been a dominant reliever for more than a couple years. Now, he's back in Kansas City, the place where he started in his career, and, the place where relievers have lately gone to flourish. Not that he needs any help. (
The Quick Opinion:
Soria is showing no signs of slowing down, and will now pitch for the reliever factory in Kansas City. Alas, he sits behind Wade Davis, and perhaps Kelvin Herrera, on the depth chart. Soria could close for plenty of teams across the league, but, barring disaster, it won't be this one.
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Updated: Saturday, February 25, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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