Juan Soto got up to 12-straight plate appearances on base before he struck out his third time up in Friday night’s game in Great American Ball Park, and the 22-year-old slugger’s night ended with him 0 for 2 with three walks, which left him 29 for 56 (.518/.654/.893) in his previous 17 games, over which he’s hit four doubles, a triple, and five home runs, with 23 walks, six Ks, and 19 runs scored, and hits in 14 of the 17 games.
Going into Saturday night’s game, Soto had, “reached base safely in 16 of his last 20 plate appearances (8 H, 8 BB, .800 OBP),” as the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Soto’s manager, Davey Martinez, said after Friday night’s game.
“He’s one of the best when it comes to plate discipline, and you see it every night. It doesn’t shock me that he’s doing what he’s doing, we talk about it all the time, but he’s been so good at taking pitches, getting on base, getting the balls that he can hit and hitting them hard.”
“It’s pretty incredible what he’s doing,” Friday’s starter, Patrick Corbin, said in his own post game Zoom call with reporters. “To only see a pitch or two each game and put a swing on it like that, I mean, guys are pitching around him, he’s on base all the time, and I’m lucky I don’t have to face him, and I get to see him every day, and what he’s been doing this past month or so has been really, really impressive.”
Luis García, the Nationals’ 21-year-old second baseman, talked on Friday night about getting to watch and learn from Soto in his own second and Soto’s fourth season in the majors.
“I’ve learned a lot. A lot. And not just in this little stretch. But ever since I’ve known him and ever since I’ve been up here, I’ve learned a lot from him,” García said.
“Obviously staying back on my backside as well as he does, and the focus that he has every at-bat, I’m trying to put that into play as well, and keep learning. I still am learning a lot from him, and just watching him play, a very great player, and I’m just trying to pick up as much as I can.”
Soto’s 1 for 3, two-walk night on Saturday left him with a .324/.473/.555 line on the year, with the NL’s best average, on-base percentage, sixth-best slugging percentage, and a 1.028 OPS that’s behind only the Phillies’ Bryce Harper (1.056).
So what will Soto do in the finale with the Reds?