Is Juan Soto slowly catching Yankees Disease or is he battling an injury?

Jun 30, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (22) walks towards the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 30, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (22) walks towards the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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New York Yankees fans are very much hoping this is temporary, but over the last month or so, Juan Soto's production has dipped. It was bound to happen at some point, we're not denying that. Even the best of the best go through slumps or downward trends.

But the timing of Soto's "struggles" — for his standards — is quite bizarre. For one, they may have coincided with his injury scares. That goes back to the series against the LA Dodgers in early June when he missed the weekend set with forearm discomfort. Then came 10 days ago when he slid into home plate against the Toronto Blue Jays and suffered a bruised right hand.

Those two minor ailments could very well be affecting him. Not to mention, he made a nice catch against the Reds this past week and crashed into the right field wall at Yankee Stadium, after which he appeared to be in some pain. He could be a tad banged up.

Or ... he could be catching the infamous "Yankees Disease" that so many before him have succumbed to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have yet to officially acknowledge the ailment related to putting on a Yankees jersey in recent years, but perhaps a Soto case study can give them the evidence they need.

Though Joey Gallo and Josh Donaldson were already on the downward spiral prior to their arrival in New York, they experienced career-worst stretches after being acquired via trade. Lance Lynn. Sonny Gray. Frankie Montas (injury). Scott Effross (injury). The list goes on. Don't forget about the prospects that stall out the moment they arrive at Triple-A or get the bump to the bigs. Don't forget about the free agency signings that fall apart (DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Rodón) for significant stretches. Don't forget about the inexplicable regressions (Gleyber Torres).

Many of the drastic swings in overall production certainly have to do with the team "vibes," which are at an all-time low right now. So is it really a coincidence that Soto is batting .174 with a .669 OPS over his last seven games and .211 with an .823 OPS (buoyed by a ridiculous .429 OBP) over his last 24 games?

Before we get too pessimistic, there's also the reality that pitchers are doing their best to avoid the slugger because ... the rest of the Yankees lineup cannot hit beyond Soto and Judge. Though Judge hasn't really missed a beat, his last week of action has been terrible (.130 AVG, .361 OPS, zero extra-base hits, zero RBI). In short, teams are starting to "figure things out" here. Probably some good notes for Aaron Boone to take when it comes to handling Rafael Devers. Just a thought.

Soto could be working harder to make something happen with how mundane the Yankees' performance has been. Trying to do too much has killed Yankees players' production before, as we know too well. And while this isn't a trend with his overall play, it's worth keeping an eye on because we're now well into a month of head-scratching output (six extra-base hits, 10 RBI, 15 strikeouts and a .395 slugging).

The Yankees are 6-17 over their last 23 games, which is the worst mark in MLB. No other team in the entire league has gone 6-16 or worse this season, not even the White Sox. And it's all coincided with Soto's slight downturn, the rest of the team turning into mannequins, and Aaron Boone's inability to steer the ship.

When will it end? We truly don't know. But the longer it drags on, the less likely Soto returns for 2025 and beyond. We'll leave it at that.

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