Juan Soto’s tenure with the San Diego Padres has been successful for the team so far — but not for him. The superstar outfielder helped them get to the NLCS last year despite putting up numbers well below what he usually has. Now, he is embracing a new role to potentially help him get a groove as Fernando Tatis Jr.’s return looms.
Soto will likely be sliding into the second spot in the Padres’ batting order when Tatis makes it back. The star outfielder prefers to hit third but is making the selfless decision to accept the new spot, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
“I’m fine with that,” Soto said, via The Athletic. “They explained it to me in spring training. They want two righties behind me so they don’t bring in a lefty for me. I like the plan.”
Tatis will supposedly be hitting in the leadoff spot, giving the Padres excellent speed and power at the top of their lineup. Soto will be followed by Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts. Jake Cronenworth, the other notable lefty in San Diego’s lineup, will bat fifth to provide spacing between him and the lefty-hitting Soto.
The Padres’ menacing lineup has not been all that scary so far this season, posting an even OPS+ of 100 and a below-average 4.18 runs per game. With Tatis absolutely raking in the minor leagues, he could be a huge boost for a San Diego team with lofty expectations. Getting Soto to produce more — he leads MLB with 16 bases on balls but is posting just a 105 OPS+ through 17 games — is also key.
Soto will join other stars like Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Alex Bregman and Starling Marte as a notable two-hole hitter. His power and ability to avoid outs should make him a great fit for the spot, especially with two sluggers behind him.
There may be an adjustment period needed for Juan Soto to get used to the new spot. But with the Padres adding a former MVP candidate into the lineup ahead of him, along with his previous experience hitting second with the Washington Nationals, he should be able to do fine.
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