Washington Nationals: Three bold predictions for 2021

Trea Turner #7 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated by Juan Soto #22 after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 31, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 8-6. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Trea Turner #7 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated by Juan Soto #22 after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 31, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 8-6. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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Juan Soto is primed to lead the Washington Nationals back to the playoffs.
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 24: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a double in the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Juan Soto and Josh Bell each hit 35 home runs.

Josh Bell has done this before in his career, Juan Soto has not. Bell is coming off a season where he struggled to hit the ball at all (.226 average) and Soto may not get enough pitches to hit (led league in hitting (.351) and intentional walks (12)), as he could be pitched around more than challenged.

This may not seem like a bold prediction. Soto is trending towards 35 home runs, and hit a career high 34 in 2019. If the Nationals get out of the gate slow and no one reaches base, or hits well behind him, Soto may not see good pitches to hit. With an on base percentage of .490 last year, Soto will find a way on base, just might not be in making his way around the bases in one swing.

Bell had his power surge in 2019 as well. In just 143 games he hit 37 long balls. The year prior he hit just 12 in 148 games. His power comes and goes, so will it come or go in 2021?

My money is it’ll be there when the season starts. With a change of scenery, a winning environment, and paired in the lineup with Juan Soto, he’s going to get his groove back.

Two players have never hit over 35 home runs in the same season in Nationals history. Anthony Rendon and Soto each hit 34 in 2019, Adam Dunn hit 38 and Ryan Zimmerman 33 in 2009, they were the closest.

Until 2021.

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