Juan Soto records two career-firsts, joins another elite club on ‘fun day’ against Sox

Yankees' Juan Soto reacts after his second homer of the day against the White Sox on May 18, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.
Michael Bennington
Sunday May 19, 2024

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Juan Soto, the Yankees’ superstar slugger, snapped out of a prolonged slump in spectacular fashion, going 4-for-4 with two solo home runs and a walk in the team’s dominant 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. The offensive resurgence of the Yankees star arrived on the heels of a quiet eight-game stretch in which he managed just four hits in 31 at-bats.

The 24-year-old Yankees slugger wasted no time making his presence felt, belting homers in two of his first three plate appearances against the White Sox. Juan Soto’s multi-homer performance, the first since joining the Yankees and the 18th of his career, showcased his immense power and ability to impact the game with his bat.

Juan Soto’s first long ball, a 417-foot shot off a middle-in changeup, tied the game at one in the opening frame. After delivering an RBI single in the second inning, the Yankees OF stepped to the plate again in the fifth and crushed an inside fastball, sending it soaring 437 feet to extend the Yankees’ lead to 6-1.

With his two-homer day, Juan Soto increased his season total to 11, joining teammates Aaron Judge (12) and Giancarlo Stanton (11) in double-digit home runs, further solidifying the Yankees’ formidable offensive trio.

Yankees' Juan Soto hits his first homer of the day against the White Sox on May 18, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.
AP Photo/ Frank Franklin II

Two career-firsts for Juan Soto

In a display of raw power, Juan Soto’s two home runs combined for a staggering 854 feet, prompting MLB stat expert Sarah Langs to highlight that it was the first time he had hit both homers with an exit velocity of at least 110 mph. His first blast, a solo shot in the opening inning, left the bat at a blistering 112.5 mph and traveled 417 feet, demonstrating that it was no mere short-porch homer, as it would have cleared the fences in all 30 MLB stadiums.

However, Juan Soto’s second long ball was even more awe-inspiring, rocketing several rows deep into the bleachers after being launched at 110.2 mph and covering an impressive 437 feet.

Nestled between these two mammoth home runs was a 107.3 mph single, followed by yet another single that scorched off Juan Soto’s bat at 110.1 mph.

According to Langs, this marked the first instance in Juan Soto’s career where he recorded three batted balls with exit velocities surpassing 110 mph in a single game, further underscoring his exceptional power and the sheer force with which he impacts the baseball.

Juan Soto entered the game mired in a slump, having collected just four hits in his previous 31 at-bats. However, he made up for lost time in spectacular fashion, going a perfect 4-for-4 and tying his career-high with 10 total bases. Soto’s impressive performance raised his season batting average to .317, along with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and a robust .975 OPS.

Yankees' Juan Soto during the game against the Chicago White Sox
Yankees

The term “generational talent” is often used to describe Juan Soto, and it is no exaggeration. With his exceptional skills and accomplishments at such a young age, he is poised to challenge Shohei Ohtani’s $700 million contract in the near future.

Juan Soto’s place in baseball history is already secure, as he is one of only six players to maintain an on-base percentage of .400 and a slugging percentage of .500 while hitting 150 home runs before the age of 25. The other five players in this elite group are Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols, all of whom are considered among the greatest to ever play the game.

The Yankees slugger remarked that it had been a fun day after going 4-for-4 with a walk, three RBIs, and his first multi-home run game as a Yankee. Juan Soto added that he was more than happy to get the win and see Gil performing well.

“It was a fun day,” he said after the game. “More than happy to get the win and see Gil doing his thing.”

Yankees coaches help Juan Soto breakout

Juan Soto is hitting a pitch during net practice at Yankees' training facility in Tampa in March 2024.
NYY

To break out of his recent slump, Juan Soto took a proactive approach, delving into his statistics and video footage while seeking guidance from Yankees’ hitting coach James Rowson, assistant Casey Dykes, and his personal hitting coach, Roessler. On Friday, five hours before the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the White Sox, Juan Soto was the lone player on the field, engaging in early batting practice.

Under the watchful eyes of Roessler, who threw from behind a screen, and Rowson, who leaned against the batting cage, Juan Soto diligently worked on fine-tuning the mechanics of his swing. It was this very swing that had propelled him to a blistering start in his first season with the Yankees, hitting .338 with nine home runs, 33 RBIs, and a 1.023 OPS through his initial 38 games.

However, before Saturday’s game, Juan Soto found himself mired in a slump, managing just four hits in 31 at-bats (.129) over his previous eight contests. The adjustments made during his early batting practice session yielded explosive results, as he launched two no-doubt home runs. In the first inning, he crushed a 3-1 changeup that caught too much of the plate, sending it deep into the right-center field seats. Then, in the fifth, the Tankees slugger unleashed another powerful shot on a first-pitch fastball, nearly reaching the second deck in right field. In addition to his two homers, Juan Soto contributed an RBI single in the second inning, drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth, and added another single in the eighth.

Reflecting on his performance, Juan Soto expressed his desire to recapture his feelings during the first month of the season when he consistently hit the ball well.

“Trying to find that feeling again where I was hitting the ball in the first month,” Soto said. “Getting that feeling back and just get that confidence back on.”

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