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Why Juan Soto is such a good hitter

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Why Juan Soto is such a good hitter

\n”,”providerName”:”Twitter”,”providerUrl”:”https://twitter.com”,”type”:”oembed”,”width”:550,”contentType”:”rich”},{“__typename”:”Markdown”,”content”:”There’s also one more advantage that Soto has that can’t be taught. One thing he was born with that you or I or many others just don’t have: Perfect eyesight.\n\nAlong with using his eyes to intimidate opposing pitchers during his shuffle, Soto uses his heightened vision to see things other batters can’t.\n\n“It’s like he’s a fly,” former Padres pitcher Mike Clevinger told the San Diego Tribune. “It’s like everything is happening way slower for him.\”\n\nAs MLB.com’s Sarah Langs noted, Soto owns the lowest chase rate and swing rate in baseball. Opposing All-Stars are visibly envious of his eyes. You can even see his incredible vision on display during a silly \”Where’s Waldo\”-type game in the MLB studio.”,”type”:”text”},{“__typename”:”OEmbed”,”html”:”

\n”,”providerName”:”Instagram”,”providerUrl”:”https://www.instagram.com/”,”type”:”oembed”,”width”:658,”contentType”:”rich”},{“__typename”:”Markdown”,”content”:”As everyone in the room looked astounded and muttered about Soto’s visual excellence, Soto smiled and yelled out, \”20/15!\” (aka the best possible vision anybody could have).\n\nI couldn’t tell if he was joking. He probably wasn’t.\n\nThis _was_ Juan Soto after all.”,”type”:”text”}],”contentType”:”news”,”subHeadline”:null,”summary”:”After a slow start, Juan Soto — the man compared to the great Ted Williams, who once said batting is like a dance \\-\\- is back to being Juan Soto.\nHe leads the Majors with 52 walks and is second in the National League with a 164 OPS+. 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2:34 AM UTC

He leads the Majors with 52 walks and is second in the National League with a 164 OPS+. He has a vintage .268/.430/.508 slash line. His numbers over the last almost month of games have been ridiculous. He’s obliterating home runs when they’re in the zone and shuffling himself away from anything outside of it.

But how in the world did the Padres right fielder, the not-even-25-year-old, become so generationally elite in the batter’s box?

Well, much of it can be traced back to when Soto was a young kid growing up in the streets of Santo Domingo. Soto’s father, Juan Jose — a huge baseball fan — knew that lefties had an advantage on the field and were much more coveted by teams. So, he made sure his toddler son drifted in that direction.

“He told me one day he was throwing me a baseball so I could throw it back,” Soto told me. “I was throwing it right-handed. He was just like rolling it at me. Then one of those, I picked it up and threw it left-handed. He was like, ‘Alright, let me see it again.’ And I threw it left-handed. And he was like, ‘Alright, I’m throwing the ball to your left side all the time now.’ And that’s how everything started going left-handed.”

Juan Sr. did the same to his son in the batter’s box, having him take swings from the left side of the plate. Baseball is still the only thing Soto does as a lefty.

“I do everything right-handed,” Soto told me. “I eat right-handed, I write right-handed …”

Then, to work on his son’s hand-eye coordination, Juan Sr. would pitch his son bottle caps and crumpled up pieces of paper. Baseballs must’ve looked like watermelons when he stepped into the real batter’s box on a real baseball field.

“Yeah, [we’d do it] outside, he used to play softball,” Soto told me. “He would take me to all his games and that’s when it would happen.”

Instead of a bat, the young Soto would sometimes just use a bottle to hit the caps or rolled up scraps of paper.

What’s also helped with the Padres star’s incredible ability to make contact — when he wants to make contact, of course — is the Dominican pastime of Vitilla. It’s a game just like baseball, but played with a broomstick handle in place of a bat and, generally, a water jug cap instead of a ball.

“I used to always play with my brother [Nats prospect Elian Soto]; it’s a fun game,” Soto recalled. “We had a really nice spot in front of my house where we could hit.”

It’s a sport Soto still plays to this day.

“In D.R., you never stop playing Vitilla,” he said. “That’s one of the games that never dies.”

You’ll quickly realize why Soto can see and hit a baseball like he does when you watch him crush the spinning, twirling piece of plastic into oblivion.

There’s also one more advantage that Soto has that can’t be taught. One thing he was born with that you or I or many others just don’t have: Perfect eyesight.

“It’s like he’s a fly,” former Padres pitcher Mike Clevinger told the San Diego Tribune. “It’s like everything is happening way slower for him.”

As everyone in the room looked astounded and muttered about Soto’s visual excellence, Soto smiled and yelled out, “20/15!” (aka the best possible vision anybody could have).

I couldn’t tell if he was joking. He probably wasn’t.

This was Juan Soto after all.



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