“It’s just fun to watch him right now,” Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier said. “We were talking. … It’s like watching a video game with him right now.”
Royals manager Ned Yost has declared that Soler is assured of breaking the record. After a recent seven-homer road trip, Soler had 35 home runs entering Wednesday’s game against St. Louis, three shy of Moustakas’ mark of 38 in 2017. That’s a marked increase from the nine homers Soler hit last season while limited to 61 games because of a broken left foot.
Soler also has the support of a former teammate -- Moustakas himself.
“I hope that he gets to that number, and I hope he gets far past it,” Moustakas told MLB.com. “You know, playing with Jorge was awesome. He's such a great dude. For what he's able to do in the box, it's incredible. This guy is such a talented athlete, and he’s coming off an injury. He was done last year. …
“For him to come off an injury and have such a great season like he's having right now, it makes it that much better."
Soler said he doesn’t remember much about Moustakas’ 2017 chase of the old Royals home run record of 36, established by Steve Balboni in 1985. Soler, in his first season with the Royals in 2017, battled injuries and appeared in only 35 games.
But Moustakas said that having his record fall to a former teammate makes it even easier to handle.
“It makes it a little bit better,” Moustakas said. “Those things are supposed to happen, [records are] supposed to be broken. Thirty-eight home runs was awesome, but I think the Royals are one of the only teams to not have a guy hit 40 home runs, and especially if Jorge does it -- he's such a great guy, and he's extremely talented."
Though Soler says he isn’t focused at all on the record, Moustakas admits chasing the record did weigh on him late in 2017.
“Towards the end, it started getting a little bit stressful,” Moustakas said. “It was a lot going on at once.”
There was much hoopla in Kansas City that year as the era of Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain playing together came to an end.
“There was a lot going on, and that just added to it,” Moustakas said. “[The record] made it even more going on. But our focus was always on making the postseason, so that kept it all in perspective. Once I finally broke it, it was pretty cool. I remember [when I got back to Kauffman Stadium], my family was out there and I got to throw out the first pitch with my dad at the game. It was pretty special the way the Royals did it. They do everything first class, and it's going to be awesome to see him break that record."
MLB.com reporter Adam McCalvy contributed to this report.