Juan Soto Has Arrived For the Yankees and the Effect is Real

The New York Yankees have started the season 5-0, thanks in large part to the effect of having Juan Soto atop their lineup leading the way.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - MARCH 30: Juan Soto #22 of the New York Yankees scores in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on March 30, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Following their four-game sweep of the Houston Astros to open the 2024 season, Yankee fans were more than ready to break the bank for Juan Soto. The newly-acquired superstar had quite the opening series for the Yankees and his effect seems to go beyond just his numbers.

Soto came storming into 2024 slashing .529/.600/.765 with a home run and 4 RBIs through New York’s first four games. Everyone has very high expectations for Soto this year, and so far he looks every bit of the superstar the Yankees needed and then some.

It was only one series into the season, but his 1.365 OPS against a pretty intimidating Houston pitching staff should certainly not be downplayed.

Through March 31, Soto ranks third in the league in hits (9) behind only Mookie Betts (11) and Will Smith (10) of the Dodgers.

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Not only has his bat been great so far, but his defense also seems to have taken a jump. Soto is certainly not known for his defense but it sure did show up against the Astros.

Again – small sample size – but for someone who usually ranks towards the bottom of the league in Fielding Run Percentage, Soto currently sits in the 91st percentile. On Opening Day, Soto made quite the entrance throwing out the tying run in the ninth inning to help hold the lead for the Yankees.

The “Juan Soto Effect”, seems to have made its way through some of the Yankee clubhouse. In bringing someone like Soto in, Yankee GM Bria Cashman hoped that he’d have some sort of impact on the players around them.

Soto is well-known for his ability to see tons of pitches and take his walks.

On Opening Day, Anthony Volpe saw 25 pitches, swinging at four, and missing none. The trend continued throughout the series and gave fans a new sense of hope for the young shortstop. Through the first three games of Volpe’s season he recorded four hits in 10 at-bats with four walks.

Having Soto around may have a lasting impact on Volpe.

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NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 25: Anthony Volpe #11 of the New York Yankees in action against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

To open up the second series of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Volpe ended up being the star of the game for the Yankees on Monday night, going 4-for-4, with a double, an RBI single and two runs scored.

While he played a more subdued role in the Yankees 5-2 win, Soto still drew two walks and saw 27 pitches in a game were he ultimately went 0-for-3 without scoring a run. His presence simply makes everyone around him better, because he puts so much pressure on the opposing pitcher.

Oswaldo Cabrera, who almost didn’t make the Opening Day roster, had a series against the Astros that almost no one saw coming. Cabrera noted that he spent a lot of time watching Soto hit in the cage throughout the offseason. So far, it appears that Cabrera was taking the right notes.

In the first series, Cabrera went 7-for-16 with two crucial home runs. Following his four-hit performance last Friday night, Cabrera became the first Yankee to record 6+ hits through the teams first two games of a season since Hideki Matsui in 2005.

Although Yankee captain Aaron Judge has gotten off to a slow start (3-for-21), the production of other players can keep Yankee fans looking forward to when Judge heats up.

It’s also nice to see players – not named Aaron Judge – create some offense for a team that has relied so heavily on Judge over the past few years.

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Soto was recently named the AL Player of the Week following his dominant start and game-winning plays against the rival-Astros. The Yankee superstar has brought a sense of youth and has energized this Yankee roster. If this start is any indication of what’s to come for the Yankees, World Series number 28 is certainly in reach.