Juan Soto named American League Player of the Week in 1st impactful showing with Yankees

Juan Soto Yankees
New York Yankees’ Juan Soto, right, celebrates with third base coach Luis Rojas after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

The Yankees are off to their best start in two decades after sweeping the Astros 4-0 in Houston thanks in large part to Juan Soto, named American League Player of the Week on Monday.

Prior to the Yankees’ series opener against the defending NL-champion Arizona Diamondbacks, Soto was slashing .529/.600/.765 with an OPS of 1.365 after his big opening series in Houston. In the words of Yankees play-by-play man John Sterling after Soto’s go-ahead hit that brought in the winning run on Sunday, the 25-year-old is “as good as advertised.”

It starts with his discipline at the dish. He has the smallest strikeout-to-AB ratio out of the lineup, 2-to-17, meaning it’s nearly impossible to get him to swing at a pitch he doesn’t like. In 20 plate appearances, he has racked up nine hits — four of them before the fifth inning, five in the fifth inning or later. The nights when he was denied the satisfaction of a hit, he battled to work a trio of walks.

That discipline is rubbing off on others in the Yankees lineup too, most notably with Oswaldo Cabrera warming up in the Sunshine State for Spring Training and staying hot in Houston. He went a combined 7-for-16 including two home runs with one walk, meaning he has one of the top slugging percentages at .875 and a top-three OPS at 1.346.

Juan Soto Yankees
(AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

It’s contributing to an increasingly optimistic clubhouse, starting with left fielder Alex Verdugo.

“You feel good when [Soto] is up there, he’s one of those guys where he’s just special,” Verdugo said (h/t YES Network). “The way he controls the zone, knows himself, and doesn’t let the moment get too big in any moment at all, it’s very impressive and I’m happy that he’s on our team.”

And that’s just from watching and learning from Soto.

It’s not just about swinging the bat in the right spots (or launching the ball out of the park). He has on-the-field impact, too. It started with gunning down a runner from right field at home plate for a game-preserving out in the ninth inning on Opening Day. Then it continued the next day with an 80-foot dash to deny Alex Bregman of a hit when the bases were clogged and it was a one-run game in the seventh.

“I mean… dawg. Let’s just put it like that, he’s a dawg, bro, like I can’t say nothing else,”
Verdugo summed up. “We’re dawgs out here.”

For more on Juan Soto and the Yankees, visit AMNY.com