Host challenges Juan Soto to prove hype, lift Yankees badly needing his bat

New York Yankees’ Juan Soto talks with Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez in the middle of the ninth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Houston.
AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox

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The New York Yankees have lost 17 of their 23 games and their much-hyped offseason signing Juan Soto has failed to lift them during their most difficult stretch. A perturbed WFAN host Chris McGonigle called out the slugger to prove his worth for a potential $500-million deal by becoming the difference maker for the team and lifting them of the slump.

McGonigle acknowledged via Audacy that while Juan Soto has been one of the team’s better performers, his production has dipped during the Yankees’ difficult stretch of 17 losses in 23 games. The radio host emphasized the need for him to return to elite form, given the team’s reliance on him and Aaron Judge as their primary offensive threats.

“We talk about how the Yankees only have two great players and that’s all they have, and right now, they don’t even have that, because he hasn’t been that for the last three weeks,” McGonigle said on Wednesday. “They need him to be that guy.

The WFAN host while commenting on Juan Soto’s performance amid the New York Yankees’ struggles, challenged the star outfielder to elevate his game as he approaches potential high-value contract negotiations in the upcoming free agency.

“Now is the time for Juan Soto to make the case to the Yankees why he’s worth $500 million…now is the time for him to sell us, because they need him desperately,” the host prod the Yankees’ superstar.

He specifically highlighted how Juan Soto’s recent statistics — a .211/.429/.395 slash line with four home runs and 10 RBIs over the past 23 games — were far below than average expectations from Yankees fans. McGonigle noted that while still above average with a 131 OPS+, these numbers didn’t present the slugger at par with his overall season performance of .291/.427/.547 with 21 home runs and 61 RBIs, resulting in a 173 OPS+.

Yankees' Juan Soto plays against the Blue Jays despite a bruised right hand in Toronto on June 30, 2024.

These also led McGonigle to speculate about the potential lingering effects of Juan Soto’s forearm discomfort from early June, questioning whether it might be impacting his current performance.

Despite the recent downturn, Juan Soto has expressed optimism about the Yankees’ offense. However, McGonigle pointed out that the team needs more consistent contributions from players beyond him and Judge, with Ben Rice being the only other regular player currently producing above-average offensive numbers.

Pressure on Juan Soto to step up for Yankees

This analysis underscores the high expectations for Juan Soto and the critical role he plays in the Yankees’ offensive strategy, especially as the team navigates a challenging period in their season.

Recent reports suggest that New York Yankees star has seen a decline in performance over the past month, coinciding with the team’s overall struggles. Although slumps are common even among elite players, the timing of Juan Soto’s downturn has raised concerns among fans and analysts.

Juan Soto’s recent drop in production may be tied to minor injuries. He missed a series against the LA Dodgers in early June due to forearm discomfort and later sustained a bruised right hand while sliding into home plate during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Additionally, he appeared to be in pain after colliding with the right field wall at Yankee Stadium while making a catch against the Cincinnati Reds.

The team’s morale, described as being at an “all-time low,” might also be affecting Juan Soto’s performance. Over the last seven games, he has batted .174 with a .669 OPS, and over the last 24 games, his average is .211 with a .823 OPS, the latter figure buoyed by a high .429 on-base percentage.

These statistics mark a notable departure from Juan Soto’s typical high standards, leading to speculation about the effects of both physical injuries and the team’s overall atmosphere on his performance.

Analysts have noted that pitchers are increasingly avoiding Juan Soto due to the lack of other significant hitting threats in the lineup, aside from Aaron Judge. However, even Judge has faced challenges, batting .130 over the past week without any extra-base hits or RBIs.

According to reports, Aaron Judge helped Juan Soto feel at home in New York, and this might be one of the reasons Soto has been shining with the Yankees.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

They also suggest that Juan Soto might be pressing to make up for the team’s poor performance, a tendency that has negatively impacted Yankees players in the past. Over the past month, the Yankees slugger has recorded only six extra-base hits, 10 RBIs, 15 strikeouts, and a .395 slugging percentage, indicating a concerning trend.

The Yankees have posted a 6-17 record over their last 23 games, the worst in MLB during this period. This slump is unprecedented for any team this season, including struggling franchises like the Chicago White Sox. This downturn has coincided with Juan Soto’s dip in form, the team’s overall offensive struggles, and questions about manager Aaron Boone’s ability to guide the team through this challenging stretch.

These observations highlight the challenges the Yankees face as they strive to turn their season around.

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