Yankees are reaping incredible benefits from the Juan Soto experience

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
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When you acquire a superstar, you don’t expect them to make changes upon arriving in your organization, and when the Yankees traded for Juan Soto there was discussion about whether he’d try to pull the ball more. Soto was pretty clear that his approach would remain the same on that front, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to try and refine his game. No hitter is perfect, even the best in the game have flaws that pitchers try to exploit, and Juan Soto was no exception to this reality.

Right now Juan Soto is playing some of the best baseball in his career, and the Yankees are reaping the benefits of a budding superstar who is just entering what most would consider your prime seasons.

Juan Soto Has Hit His Stride With the Yankees

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If the season ended right now, Juan Soto would be the American League MVP, as he leads in multiple offensive metrics and WAR as well. The improvements he’s made go beyond just playing in the bright lights of New York, as we’re seeing legitimate tweaks to his game that have allowed him to maximize his profile. As mentioned earlier, no batter is perfect, and Soto struggled with elevating the baseball consistently which resulted in less game power and lower averages.

Hitting over .300 requires elite-level launch angle distribution, but Juan Soto has a greater margin for error than most contact hitters because he has 70-grade Raw Power. Over the past two seasons, his Sweet Spot Rate had plummeted to just 28.5%, but this season we’ve seen that mark climb up to 34.7%, with the key difference being a decrease in groundball rate.

READ MORE: Yankees’ dynamic duo showcasing scary offensive production

Juan Soto is hitting the ball harder and getting in the air more often, having his highest launch angle since his 2019 season (11.3) and his best barrel rate since the shortened 2020 season. While that would come with an increase in strikeout rate for most hitters, Soto has seen his Whiff Rate remain mostly unchanged while decreasing his strikeout rate by 5%. This is one of the most polished offensive forces in the game, and he’s been even better than advertised at the plate.

Steamer believes this is the year Juan Soto wins AL MVP as well, projecting him for the best fWAR (8.3) and wRC+ (179) in baseball. Just 25 years old, it’s not surprising to see that Juan Soto is making adjustments to improve his skill set, and that’s come with improvements to his swing as a whole. Not only is his bat speed up 2.7 MPH but his attack angle is changed as well, with a slightly flatter swing that could be helping him have more confidence in firing off his A-Swing without completely whiffing.

Furthermore, the defensive improvements are staggering, with a +3 Fielding Run-Value in right field thus far. Defensive metrics have yet to stabilize, but his range has improved and his route running is better as well. I don’t think he’ll contend for a Gold Glove or anything, but I do believe that right field creates a much wider margin for error since it’s a smaller part of Yankee Stadium.

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

What’s made Juan Soto even more impressive? The frequency at which he comes through with runners in scoring position has given the Yankees plenty of crucial wins.

In 37 trips to the plate with RISP, Juan Soto is hitting .448 with a 262 wRC+, driving in 25 runs and slugging over .800 as well. The most insane part of his slash line in these situations is that his OBP is over .500, meaning there’s a better chance that he reaches base when runners are in scoring position than him getting out. There’s just something unbelievable about the presence Soto has had on this roster, and he’s been integral to the Yankees’ success.

Somehow, Juan Soto has become an even better version of himself, and the Yankees know he’s irreplaceable not just now, but in the future as well. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, and he’s made a lot of money off of just the first few weeks of the season, The Great Juan has transformed the way the Yankees can play on a night-to-night basis.

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