Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch may not favor Juan Soto

It's natural to expect Hall of Fame-caliber numbers from Juan Soto next season.

After all, these are the numbers he has posted throughout his career.

It's probably unfair to expect the 25-year-old to use the Bronx's short right field porch to challenge the home run record.

It's certainly possible that Soto will take advantage of his new home and add a few home runs down the right field line, but he's not the poster child for hacking away at Yankee Stadium, which is friendly to left-handed pull hitters.

The Yankees' newest superstar — acquired this week from the Padres in a package that included Michael King and top prospect Drew Thorpe — can play anywhere and has a swing that drives the ball anywhere.

But that's not the type of swing designed for the right-field wall 314 feet from home plate.

Juan Soto was traded to the Yankees on Thursday. AP

Soto hit a career-high 35 home runs with the Padres last season, but contrary to conventional wisdom, he probably would have hit fewer home runs if he had played all his home games at Yankee Stadium.

According to Statcast data, eight of his home runs last season came at Yankee Stadium, taking into account wall height, distance, and environmental factors (the ball travels better in warmer weather). Probably wouldn't have hit it.

Perhaps at least some of his doubles and deep flyouts last season would have been short-porch home runs in the Bronx, but Soto didn't hit that many balls.

According to Statcast, Soto hit 196 balls into the air last season, either line drives or fly balls. He had only 49 (25%) go to right field.

Juan Soto had 35 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .275 batting average for the Padres last season.
Juan Soto had 35 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .275 batting average for the Padres last season. AP

The majority (86, or about 44 percent) went to center field, and 61 (about 31 percent) went to left field, the deeper area of ​​the stadium.

This slugger uses the entire field, which is his strength as a hitter, but it doesn't help him take advantage of or exploit his short pouch.

Considering the size of his new home park, he might be able to change his approach and get more balls out, but it might not be a good idea to ruin a plan that has put him on track for a Hall of Fame career.

The Yankees desperately needed a bat like Soto for several reasons, including their struggle to find competent left-handed hitters. Despite being an attractive right fielder, the Yankees' left-handed pitcher posted an OPS of just .673 last season, the fourth-worst in baseball.

Soto should solve the problem regardless of the short pouch. In a small sample size of seven games and 28 at-bats at the stadium as a visitor, Soto played like a superstar, posting a 1.219 OPS with four home runs and one double.

Those home runs are scattered. A ball hit to right-center field and a ball hit to the left field line (2018). To the Center (2021). And then to the second porch on the right wing side (2023).



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