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Juan Soto Is Proving To Be The Yankees' X-Factor


The highly anticipated matchup of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers was marked on everyone's calendar, and it did not go as planned, at least on the Yankees’ side of it all. Due to a forearm inflammation, the Yankees were without their highly touted superstar Juan Soto, and the Dodgers carved the Yankees in their series victory.


The Yankees avoided a sweep in a 6-4 victory in their third matchup, but the damage was already done. The Yankees need Juan Soto if they want to become World Series champions.


Big Market Matchup


Both teams are nearly identical in terms of their offensive stats. Going into the series matchup, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a WRC+ of 122, an OPS of .771, a BA of .257, a BB% of 9.8%, and a K% of 21.5%. The Yankees stat line was similar, with a WRC+ of 124, an OPS of .776, a BA of .256, a BB% of 10.3%, and a K% of 20.5%. On paper, this was the potential 2024 World Series preview.


Yamamoto Sends The Yankees Packing And Hitless


Yoshinobu Yamamoto reverted the Yankees to their 2023 selves, as he allowed no hits and struck out seven batters in the seven innings he pitched. The Yankees had no answers to the acclaimed pitcher despite the Yankees being regarded as an offensively dominant team.


The Yankees’ lineup could not get anything in-play, outside of an Aaron Judge home run. This offensive pattern was reminiscent of the nearly non-existent offense of 2023 that the Yankees were plagued with. 


Without Juan Soto, the Yankees were lost. There was no urgency amongst the Yankees, and a lack of plate discipline because of no Juan Soto appearance. Soto was teased during the final innings, where Soto was potentially going to be called up to pinch hit, but it was called off.


The Yankees failed to surmount a late-game comeback and lost 2-1. 





Teoscar Hernandez Sent It Flying In The Bronx


The Yankees allowed the most runs during the season when they allowed 11 runs in an 11-3 loss to the Dodgers. Most of the damage done was because of Teoscar Hernandez and his two home runs that allowed six RBIs for the game. The Yankees had no answer to the dominant offensive performance by the Dodgers, outside of two solo home runs by Aaron Judge and an RBI double by Verdugo. 


Do you see a pattern here? Without the presence of Juan Soto at the plate, the Yankees’ offense is all Judge or nothing. However, in their third matchup, the Yankees were able to grab a win thanks to a 3-run home run by Trent Grisham and an additional Judge home run in the eighth inning to seal the victory. 



The Yankees had a batting average of .132, .270, and .290, and an OPS of .353, .784, and .978 in the three games against the Dodgers respectively. Compare that to the next series against the Kansas City Royals when Juan Soto returned to the starting lineup. 


Juan Soto Returns


Comparing the three games against the Dodgers to the first three games of the series against the Royals, the Yankees had a batting average of .290, .263, and .306, and an OPS of .643, .886, and .937 in those games respectively. The Yankees won those games in dominating fashion, with the June 11th and 12th games won in double-digits. Statistically comparing the two series, there was no significant improvement in batting average, but the OPS difference is night and day. 


While yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a completely different team than the Kansas City Royals, and the Yankees' batting average did not show a noteworthy change when Juan Soto returned, his return did show a remarkable improvement in OPS. Soto himself had a couple of hits and walks, showing that he can get on base for Aaron Judge to work his magic. His presence alone woke up the offense, and no home run was needed for the Yankees to get large-margin victories against the Royals. Juan Soto’s youthful energy lights up the dugout when they need it, and not having him in the lineup deflates the team. 




The Yankees Cannot Lose Soto


It is a small sample size, but Juan Soto missing three consecutive games despite those games being against the Los Angeles Dodgers shows his importance to any baseball franchise, especially the New York Yankees. The offense cannot function if Volpe, Soto, and Judge do not perform, and losing just one of those guys, especially a guy like Juan Soto, can be detrimental to the team. 


So Hal Steinbrenner, will you pull out the checkbook for Juan Soto? You got a quick glimpse of what this team can become if you do not sign Juan Soto long-term to the Yankees. It’s all Soto or nothing.


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