World Series 2021: Braves’ Jorge Soler makes history with leadoff home run in Game 1 vs. Astros

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The Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros kicked off the 2021 World Series on Tuesday night. It didn’t take long for Atlanta’s Jorge Soler to make history, either. Soler, in the starting lineup for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19 during the divisional round, became the first player to ever hit a home run in the first plate appearance of the World Series, according to Baseball Reference. The Soler homer gave the Braves a lead they would never relinquish in a 6-2 victory.  

Soler launched his home run on the third pitch of the game from Framber Valdez. Soler’s home run had an exit velocity of 105 mph and traveled an estimated 382 feet, per Statcast’s calculations. (The Braves would subsequently plate another run later in the frame, giving them a 2-0 lead going into the bottom half of the first.) 

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As’s Sarah Langs noted on Twitter, Soler’s home run was the fifth leadoff home run hit in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series. The other four, however, had all been struck to open the bottom half of the frame: Don Buford in 1969; Dustin Pedroia in 2007; Alcides Escobar in 2015; and Chris Taylor in 2017.

Soler originally joined the Braves at the trade deadline. In 55 games with Atlanta, he hit .269/.358/.524 (128 OPS+) with 14 home runs. He’d previously hit .192/.288/.370 (76 OPS+) with 13 home runs in 94 contests with the Kansas City Royals. Soler, scheduled to become a free agent this winter, was one of several notable additions Atlanta made to its outfield at the deadline, alongside Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, and Adam Duvall

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