Washington Nationals: Juan Soto’s Impact 365 Days Later
Washington Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto made his debut last season on May 20. He has been an incredible revelation for the team.
The Washington Nationals called up outfielder Juan Soto on May 19, 2018. At the time, he was the youngest player in Major League Baseball.
His debut came the next day on May 20, in which Soto pinch-hit for Adrian Sanchez.
Soto’s first career start came the next day against the San Diego Padres and left-handed pitcher Robbie Erlin.
With two runners on and zero outs, Soto cranked the first pitch he saw into the left-field bullpen, sprinting around the bases to a roaring crowd.
Little did the fans, and the MLB, know at the time was what a force Soto could become in such a small period of time.
During his rookie year, Soto won Rookie of the Month in June, July, and September. He finished 2nd in the National League Rookie of the Year voting behind Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr.
He earned those accolades by batting .292 with a .923 OPS and a 3.7 WAR. If he qualified for the batting title leaderboards, Soto’s OBP of 0.406 would have ranked 4th in all of baseball, behind Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Joey Votto.
Soto has taken a step back offensively this season, but with a 110 wRC+, he is still an above average hitter. After his sophomore “slump” ends, Soto is going to ramp up production and become an invaluable member of the Nationals for years to come.
After losing Bryce Harper earlier this year, Soto is now the large left-handed presence in the lineup. Sure, Soto will likely never be the power threat Harper was, but he gets on base just as often, if not more depending on which splits you look at.
Outside of the baseball field, Soto is simply a likable person. He is outgoing and has a smile on his face in seemingly every picture of him. The Nats fan base has latched onto him from day one, and their connection to him is growing stronger by the game. Likewise, Soto seems to enjoy playing in D.C. and in front of Nats fans.
Soto has been a joy for his first full year as a Washington National. Let’s hope there are many more years of #22 gracing Nationals Park!