Juan Soto went 1 for 4 with a big home run in Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies, which snapped a three-game slide for the Washington Nationals. That home run though. It traveled 454 feet to right-center in Nationals Park, clearing the corner of the second deck, and almost reaching the concourse.
Is there anything Soto does that surprises his manager at this point?
“No,” Davey Martinez said after the finale with the Rockies. “I’ve seen the power he’s got. He can hit the ball a long way, I just love watching him hit. He’s just — like I said, he understands the strike zone, and when he gets a good pitch to hit he hits it. He just missed a couple today. He got beat a couple times, but just a little behind, but that ball there, was just crushed.
“You’re going to get that with Soto every now and then, but he’s going to have good at-bats every time he goes up there.”
Soto was just happy to hit one out.
“When was the last time I hit a homer?” he asked rhetorically in a post game Zoom call with reporters.
“I don’t even remember the last time I hit a homer. It’s been so long. It’s just always fun to hit a homer and see how far the ball lands and everything, it’s just pretty exciting.”
Sunday’s blast, his first since he hit one off of Braves’ reliever Richard Rodríguez back on September 8th in Atlanta, was Soto’s 26th of 2021, and, the Nationals noted, “... the third-longest in his career and his longest at Nationals Park.”
His 1 for 4 game left the 22-year-old slugger 68 for 189 (.360/.525/.656) with nine doubles, a triple, 15 home runs, 66 walks, and 31 Ks over 59 games and 259 plate appearances post All-Star break.
On the year, Soto has a .315/.459/.531 line with 18 doubles, two triples, 26 home runs, 124 walks, and 83 Ks in 138 games and 591 PAs. His .315 AVG is the second-highest in the NL, behind only former teammate Trea Turner (.316), just above Bryce Harper’s .313 AVG. And though he tries his best to ignore such things, Soto said he is aware of the race he’s in for the NL Batting title, which would be his second, after he won it in 2020’s 60-game season.
“You know, you try to keep your mind away from it, you just try to come out and play, have fun, but it’s always the comments,” he said. “The comments are always going to come to you. Everybody, and all my teammates and everybody are just pushing me and wishing me the best for that, you can’t just don’t look at it. So yeah, I’ve been following it, I’ve been tracking it, we just keep working hard and try to do my best out there.”
“He’s been great,” Martinez said of Soto’s second-half surge and season overall. “He’s been great. Like I said, he gives himself a chance to hit every pitch, and that’s all you can ask for.
“I hope that he continues to swing. I want to see him win another batting title, back-to-back, it’s hard to do, but he’s got a chance to do it.”
What will Soto do tonight?