Summer 2024

21 MLB players to watch in 2021: Washington Nationals OF Juan Soto

Through the month of March, leading up to MLB Opening Day on April 1,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting 21 Christ-following players to watch in 2021.

Nationals outfielder Juan Soto didn’t waste any time once he was able to take the field in 2020. After missing the beginning of the season following a positive COVID test, Soto hit .351 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 47 games. He led the National League in batting average and all of baseball in on-base percentage (.490), slugging (.695) and OPS (1.185).

Unsurprisingly, Soto received the first Silver Slugger Award of his career. The Nationals are hoping he can replicate that performance this season and lead them to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

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A native of the Dominican Republic, Soto finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2018 following a 22-homer, 70-RBI campaign. He was even better in 2019, going yard 34 times and driving in 110 runs for the World Series champions.

En route to that World Series, it was Soto’s hit in the bottom of the eighth inning of the wild-card game that completed the Nationals’ comeback win over the Brewers. After the game, Soto told TBS that he and his family had  prayed beforehand.

“We just prayed before the game,” Soto said. “And we told Him that we just need His help.”

Soto then went deep twice in Washington’s upset of the Dodgers in the NLDS, and was one of the stars of the World Series, producing three home runs, two doubles, six runs scored and seven RBIs.

Soto expressed gratitude to God throughout Washington’s postseason run. After defeating the Cardinals in the NLCS, he posted a picture on Instagram of him holding the trophy with the caption, “For you my God be the glory” (translated):

Prior to the World Series, he gave God the credit for his career.

“It’s a blessing from God, to be here in the big leagues and play baseball like I have,” Soto told the New York Times. “I never thought I’d be this talented of a player.”

The 22-year-old regularly wears a wristband that displays “1 Cor. 13:13, Faith, Hope, Love,” and often references his faith on social media. He has Philippians 4:13 listed in his Instagram bio.

Last March, as the world started to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Soto shared a post that said, “Smile, you don’t know what God is protecting you from” (translated).

Already one of baseball’s premier hitters with a batting title and two top-10 finishes in MVP voting just three years into his career, Soto is poised to be one of the sport’s biggest stars for years to come. Through his rapid rise to stardom, he’s stayed grounded in his faith and redirected the praise he’s received to God.

21 MLB Players to Watch in 2021
Nationals’ Juan Soto wins first Silver Slugger award, keeps pointing to Christ
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