May 27, 2024

The New York Yankees may witness an enhanced version of their 25-year-old Hall of Fame talent in 2024 following the acquisition of Juan Soto in a significant trade with the San Diego Padres. A pivotal question emerged regarding where Aaron Boone would position him within their lineup. While rumors circulated about Soto’s preferred batting position, he ultimately settled into the second spot, preceding Aaron Judge. This arrangement seems ideal for the Yankees’ captain, who has long desired to bat third but lacked a suitable co-star in the lineup to justify the decision.

Padres' left fielder Soto scratched late vs. Yankees with back tightness

However, what hasn’t received sufficient attention is the potential impact on Juan Soto, typically known for his selective hitting approach, now compelled to take more aggressive swings within the strike zone. With pitchers wary of walking Soto to face Judge, this shift could work to the advantage of the 25-year-old superstar if he builds upon his late-season surge from the previous year.

Recent discussions with baseball aficionados raised concerns about Soto’s tendency towards over-selectiveness and its potential limitation on his batting prowess. While Soto’s plate discipline has generally been exemplary, there have been instances where his reluctance to swing has resulted in missed opportunities for offensive impact. Towards the end of last season, however, Soto appeared to recognize this issue and adjusted his approach, leading to increased offensive output. Despite a slight decrease in walks, the overall uptick in offensive production overshadowed any minor setbacks. This adaptation might seem unconventional for a future Hall of Famer, but the tangible results speak for themselves.

The Yankees will be relying on a version of Juan Soto akin to the one described above, especially with his placement in the second spot in the batting order. Moreover, this season is crucial for Soto as it marks the final year of his contract, heightening the stakes for him to deliver a standout performance. Considering his potential earnings in free agency, a career-best season could significantly boost his market value.

Similarly, the Yankees have recent experience with another player enjoying a stellar walk year, namely Aaron Judge. Judge’s phenomenal performance in 2022, characterized by a revamped approach at the plate, resulted in one of the most remarkable seasons in modern MLB history. By focusing on pulling contact, Judge significantly increased his aggressiveness at the plate, leading to a surge in home runs and establishing himself as one of baseball’s premier hitters. This transformation illustrates the potential for growth and optimization even among players of Soto’s caliber.

While Juan Soto’s MLB career has already positioned him as a future Hall of Famer, his tenure with the Yankees could unlock even greater potential.

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