Tyler Soderstrom Gives the Oakland A’s a Budding Success Story

Tyler Soderstrom's improved bat has helped the 2024 Oakland A's out in a big way. He could be on the way to a breakout season.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 13: Tyler Soderstrom #21 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates his two-run home run as he rounds the bases against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning at Target Field on June 13, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

As you already know, everything went south for the Oakland Athletics in 2023. I do not need to walk you through the path of pain, because you know the story. One thing Oakland fans had to look forward to was the arrival of top prospect Tyler Soderstrom.

A consensus top 100 prospect, Soderstrom’s bat carried his value. Power with a hit tool that could be cemented into the middle of the Athletics order for years to come. At least that’s what we were told. However, 2023 was a disaster. A .252/.307/.526 slash and 88 wRC+ in Triple-A was well below the expectation, especially for a top prospect in the PCL league.

The A’s decided they would give him a shot and it could not have gone worse. Soderstrom could not handle pitching at the game’s highest level, striking out 31% of the time and hitting a mere .160 across 45 games.

Soderstrom’s Year-to-Year Improvement

Now, with a fresh start and an offseason of work, the 22 year-old is settling in and showing flashes of why he was a highly regarded prospect. Soderstrom will likely always run a high strikeout rate, but now he is tapping into some power.

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These are not cheap shots, either. Soderstrom is going to the deepest part of the park often. The key to his uptick in power has been his ability to hit velocity at a much better clip. In 2023, Soderstrom hit .217 with a lousy .283 slugging percentage off fastballs. This season he has a .280 average, .520 slugging, and 94.8 mph average exit velocity off fastballs. Overall, he’s making quality contact and impacting the baseball like we did not see at any point last season.

Avg. Exit VelocityBarrel %Hard Hit %LA Sweet Spot %
202389.3 mph6%39.8%26.5%
202492.8 mph15.3%54.2%39.2%

One of the frustrating part’s of Soderstrom’s first stint in the majors was his inability to lift the ball. He’s made strides by improving his average launch angle from 5.7 degrees in 2023 to 12.0 degrees in 2024 leading to an improvement in his groundball rate and home run rate.

Still Room to Improve

Of course, as is the case with most 22 year-old big leaguers, there’s still room to improve. Like I mentioned earlier, he’ll probably always carry a high strikeout rate, and that’s okay. His walk rate has improved, but a 28.9% chase rate is still high. As he has more time on task, learning to layoff breaking balls will help him take that step to being the type of hitter many think he can become.

Soderstrom currently has a 47.6% whiff rate on breaking balls and will continue to see more and more movement as the league gets a book on him. As pitchers adjust, He’ll have to show the ability to adjust as well. Doing so will lead to more pitchers trying to work back into counts and more fastballs coming into the strike zone – where he does the most damage.

He can really tap into his potential if he can pull the ball more. Although he has enough juice to put a ball over the wall in center, he can truly unlock his power if he gets to his pull side more frequently. Right now his 28.8% pull rate is rather low, especially for a player with his power potential. As he gains more experience and get more comfortable seeing major league pitching he’ll be able to find the right field stands more often.

Overall, Soderstrom has impressed this season. The days of trying him out as a full-time catcher are gone and he can shift his focus towards his offense. While it might seem like a small change that should not effect him at the plate, the move to first base frees him of game planning with pitchers and allows him to focus more on himself. It’s a small sample, but Soderstrom could be starting a breakout season.

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