Midfielder Juan Soto has a big problem after talking with Padres

Could Juan Soto's 3-hit RBI game be the start of a change?

Could Juan Soto’s 3-hit RBI game be the start of a change?
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All sunny San Diego rejoicing on August 2 when the Washington Nationals sent their 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto to the Padres. A month and a half later, Padres fans gave their receipts to the Nats, asking for a buyback.

Since joining the Padres, Soto has slashed .202 / .375 / .319. Out of all those with qualifications during that time period, that .319 slip rate ranks 15th Lowest Of All MLB. Curiously, one of the 14 players under Soto is teammate Josh Bell (.307), who also arrived in San Diego as part of a similar deal. However, Padres fans will be excited for a .319 slip from Soto right now, because in his last 15 games (before Friday night), Soto is slipping .063, with only .063 slips. three hits (all singles) in 63 appearances. Yeah, I know Soto had two hits (including his first extra-base hit in over half a month) and three RBI hits last night. I hope that marks the end of this stretch, but one game is not enough for me to consider his decline.

.063 that is third lowest all season over a 15 game period Among the players there are at least 50 plate occurrences. Only Tampa Bay’s Taylor Wall (.041 miss rate in 52 appearances) and Arizona’s Seth Beer (.041 in 54 appearances) have had 15 worse games this season.

What happened?

How did Soto go from one of the most feared fighters in MLB, Derby Home Run champion and NL MVP favorite, to one of the worst parts of the Padres roster? Is this just a fluke, a bad sequence from which we should expect Soto to break out, or is something else going on?

Dựa theo FanGraphs, Soto hasn’t had a good season by his standards. I think that’s obvious. What is less obvious is how unlucky he was. Despite hitting 0.234 during the season, Soto is actually very close to his career average this year in terms of both barrel percentage (12.1 percent in 2022) and hard hit rate (47 percent in 2022). To be sure, both are down from what he could do in 2020 (17.5 percent barrels; 51.6 percent hit hard) and 2021 (13.3 percent barrels; 52.4 percent). difficult attack percentage), but based on how he performed this season, you would think they would be much lower. Yes, they’re a drop from what we’re used to seeing, but based on those numbers, you can expect Soto’s polished average to be somewhere in the .260 or .270 years, like FanGraphs’ project – not between. 230. His expected slippage based on those numbers is 0.408, just one point lower than his numbers from 2019, where he was ninth in the MVP poll, compared to the landmark. his actual is 0.373.

Well, all is well and great, but what about that 15 match period? What made Soto play so terrible? And really, there’s only one factor that seems to make a huge difference in 2022. Will he swing his legs more on bad pitches? No. In fact, he’s turned on fewer throws outside of the strike zone in these last 15 games before last night (16.3 swing ratio outside of the zone) than he has for the rest of the season ( 20.1 percent). That 16.3 figure is also lower than his season percentages in 2020 (21 per cent), 2019 (23.4 per cent) and 2018 (21.9 per cent).

The biggest change in performance for Soto is the percentage of light hits. In 2022, Soto has the seventh highest position percentage of light hits among highly qualified people at 21.2%. So while Soto still hits the ball well at the slightly lower clip than in previous seasons, he hits it much worse in more circumstances. It is 5.3% higher than 2021, 6.1% higher than 2020 and 8.7% higher than 2019.

What I can’t understand is why though. Soto hasn’t changed much in its approach. No changes in mechanics or trends were noted. Statistically, Soto’s slip resistance is worse than any other surface in his career. Does the pitcher throw him more sliders? Yes, 22.4% of the throws Soto’s way have missed as of August 29. In 2021, that number is only 18.1%. However, that 4.3% difference is not enough to explain why he is so well connected. Perhaps a small jump in percentage is enough to make Soto second guess himself on the plate. When he’s looking for a quick ball but instead gets a hammer that lands on his back foot, it leads to more weak balls, sure – but at terrible odds Will his 0.63 slide indicate? That may seem far-fetched, but if I had to point to the reason for Soto’s struggles, the increased slip rate would be it.

All in all, Soto’s struggle cannot be single-digitized. Every statistic that seems significantly below his career average begs the question, “Why?” But it can never be answered. It’s just an endless rabbit hole that promises an end, but keeps going until you’ve wasted every brain cell trying to defend someone who should have been one of the greats. baseball village. That said, I can’t help but think that Soto will eventually return to normal. Maybe he just needs a break to adapt to the West Coast. Maybe he needs to go back to the high leverage situations of the postseason to ignite that fire in him. Whatever it is, the Padres better figure it out quickly, or else what is arguably the best deal of the season, could turn out to be the worst deal in franchise history.

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