Nationals

Soto's power stroke is returning just in time for Home Run Derby

Nationals

Juan Soto's announcement on Wednesday he would be joining the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby field sent shockwaves of excitement throughout the baseball world. Fans and other players now get a chance to see one of the brightest stars in the game swing for the fences in Colorado.

Soto himself is pumped for the competition.

“Yeah, hell yeah," Soto said following the Nationals win over the Padres Wednesday night. "It’s going to be a nice experience and I’m going to just enjoy it as much as I can.”

Though his main goal is just to have fun out there -- as he does every game -- the 2021 All-Star has a legit chance of bringing home the trophy. Shohei Ohtani, Pete Alonso, Trevor Story, Trey Mancini, Salvador Perez, Matt Olson and Joey Gallo are worthy competition, but Soto has plenty of pop too. 

That may come as a surprise to some who don't follow Soto's game on a daily basis, given that the stats show he has *just* 11 home runs in 2021, While that may be the case, his body of work speaks for itself. That includes 34 home runs during the 2019 season and another five during the team's World Series run. He also launched 22 during his first taste of action in 2018.

Additionally, Soto is starting to find his power stroke again at the right time as it relates to the Home Run Derby. Homering in back-to-back games against the Padres this week, it's never been more clear that Soto's power is alive and well. A prime example came in the first inning on Wednesday when he smacked a ball over the fence with such force that it got out in the blink of an eye.

 

With such a low launch angle, some may have wondered how that ball even got out. Not Soto, though, as he knows hard contact always brings good results.

“Hell yeah, every time. If I hit it hard in the air I’m always thinking it has a chance," Soto said.

Swings like that are encouraging for Soto. While he's never doubted his power, 2021 has been a year in which he's continued to work on his swing to bring the long ball part of his game back into the forefront. It's by no means all about hitting home runs for Soto, but power is an important part of his offensive arsenal.

Based on the recent sample size and the way he is feeling, it appears everything is clicking as of late.

“I just feel great. We’ve been working a lot, working hard," Soto said. "Today we see good results from the swing. Not just about the homer, but my swing was looking better and we’ve been going through the ball really well."

The 2020 batting champ may not possess the same homer total as some of the other participants, but Wednesday's home run says everything there is to know about Soto. With a swing and strength like that, he has a good chance to bring home the title.