From historic HRs to Wild Card heroics: Soto's top moments as a Nat

August 12th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- The box scores and leaderboards overflow with Juan Soto’s accomplishments from his five-year tenure with the Nationals. Despite being a power hitter, his best moments extend far beyond the plate.

With Soto set to return tonight to the nation's capital for the first time since he was dealt to the Padres, here's a look at the wide-ranging ways he impacted Nationals baseball.

Welcome to the bigs
Soto made his Major League debut with a pinch-hit at-bat against the Dodgers on May 20, 2018. The following day, he showed what he can do in the starting lineup. Soto went yard on the first pitch he saw on May 21 vs. the Padres, ultimately going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs. The following month, he historically belted two homers in his Yankee Stadium debut. These contests set the tone for a standout performance that earned him second place in National League Rookie of the Year voting that season.

A wild Wild Card
A 20-year-old Soto played hero in his first postseason contest, the 2019 National League Wild Card Game against the Brewers on Oct. 1, 2019, at Nationals Park. Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs, Soto delivered a single off Josh Hader to right field that evaded the glove of Trent Grisham on an error. Andrew Stevenson, Michael A. Taylor and Anthony Rendon came around to score to give the Nationals the deciding 4-3 lead that punched their ticket to the NL Division Series.

Out of this World (Series) performance
No stage was too big for Soto in the 2019 playoffs as he played a key role in the Nationals’ first title. In the seven-game World Series matchup with the Astros, he slashed .333/.438/.741 with a 1.178 OPS and seven RBIs. Soto, who turned 21 the day of Game 3, also became the youngest player to belt a trio of homers in a single World Series.

Forty-seven games in a pandemic-abbreviated 2020 season was all Soto needed to dominate at the plate. At 21 years old, he became the youngest player to win the NL batting title by edging out Freddie Freeman, .351 to .341. That season, his .490 on-base percentage, .695 slugging percentage, 1.185 OPS and 201 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) clocked in as the highest rates by any qualified hitter since Barry Bonds in ‘04.

Walk it out
With unwavering plate discipline, Soto drew a historic 145 walks in 2021. His total was the most in a full season since ‘04 when Bonds set the record with 232 free bases. Accentuating his maturity beyond his age, Soto’s walk total was the second most by any player younger than 23, trailing only the legendary Ted Williams (147 in 1941).

Triple-digit feats
Soto reached a pair of career milestones within a two-week span in the first month of the 2022 season. He wallopped his 100th home run on April 12 and he tallied career hit No. 500 on April 22. He is the 10th player in Nationals history to collect at least 500 hits in a curly “W” uniform.

Home runs for miles
One year after crushing a record-setting 520-foot dinger in the 2021 T-Mobile Home Run Derby, Soto’s goal was to hit the longest opposite-field blast in Los Angeles. What he accomplished was winning the entire competition on July 18, 2022, at Dodger Stadium. Soto eliminated the Guardians' José Ramírez, the Cardinals' Albert Pujols and the Mariners' Julio Rodríguez to become the champion, complete with a bejeweled necklace bestowed upon him by music star Bad Bunny.