After hitting a go-ahead three-run home run last night, it is clear Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is getting hot at the perfect time.
The sophomore slump. A phrase known well by many sports fans, and feared by any second-year athlete. Washington Nationals 20-year-old outfielder Juan Soto was getting very familiar with this term towards the start of the season.
Soto began the year hitting well, but slowed down as the end of April and beginning of May approached. After coming off the disabled list with a back injury on May 11, Soto continued to struggle going two for his first 20 with nine strikeouts in his first five games back.
The poise at the plate, knowledge of the strike zone, and personal swagger we all came to know and love last season seemed to be gone. Soto looked lost at the plate and his batting line of .228/.345/.415 confirmed this.
For the Nationals to be at their best, they need Juan Soto locked in and performing at the plate. On Friday, May 17, in a game against the Chicago Cubs, Soto seemed to flip the switch and return to his 2018 self at the plate.
In that game, the 20-year-old went 2-4 with a double, and this sparked a red-hot streak to come. Soto would continue to perform well in the Cubs and Mets series, and after last nights heroic performance he is 15 for his last 35 with six extra-base hits and nine runs driven in.
Last night Soto played the hero in the bottom of the eighth with Washington down 8-9, Soto demolished a three-run homer to deep centerfield, giving Washington an 11-9 lead and ultimately sealing a desperately needed win.
In just these last eight games Soto has raised his batting average nearly .60 points from .228 to a very solid .281. He also has made the Nationals offense as a whole perform better, as the team has scored 41 runs over those eight games. That is an average of a little over five runs a game.
With a starting rotation as deep as the Nationals is if Soto continues to swing the bat like this they are going to win a lot of games. Washington has reached do or die point in their season, and if they want to make an improbable comeback, they need this version of Juan Soto to stick for the rest of this season.