There might not be a better player in MLB at differentiating balls from strikes than Washington Nationals slugger Juan Soto.
He has shown in recent seasons that his plate discipline is the best in the league, even better than Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. Freddie Freeman, Fernando Tatis Jr., and every star you can think of.
But this season, with a depleted Nationals squad that will probably be fighting not to finish last in the NL East, he may be putting some extra pressure on himself.
He may not talk about this publicly because it would be minimizing his teammates, but he may be trying to do it all in Washington, and that stems from his weak supporting cast.
“Juan Soto is seeing fewer strikes in 2022, but he’s chasing more pitches this usual. ‘I think he is expanding a lot more than he typically does. I think it comes from a little bit of – he wants to drive in the runs when they’re out there.’ –Dave Martinez,” Nationals reporter Andrew Golden had tweeted about Soto, and he is very much right.
Soto Is Expanding The Zone
Washington Post’s reporter Chelsea Janes also had some comments on the situation: “Hard to blame Soto for reaching a bit more than usual given the way the Nats are playing. Andrew wrote about him expanding a bit more at the plate this morning. You might have seen it on the bases there. Frustration has made far less talented players feel they have to do it all,” she said.
Hard to blame Soto for reaching a bit more than usual given the way the Nats are playing. Andrew wrote about him expanding a bit more at the plate this morning. You might have seen it on the bases there. Frustration has made far less talented players feel they have to do it all. https://t.co/3KXtOFx8gN
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) May 12, 2022
While not quite at the level we are used to seeing him, Soto is still having a productive year, with a .870 OPS.
But he is swinging at 22.6 percent of pitches out of the zone, a significant increase over the 15.1 percent he swung at last year.
He is clearly trying to do all the work and include some homers and hard-hit balls in his stats, but he needs to be himself and return to being the hitter we all know and admire.