During this year’s baseball season, Washington Nationals fans were delighted whenever they saw star outfielder Juan Soto point to the heavens. It meant he had just had a key hit or slugged a home run and was thanking God for letting him play baseball.

Turning 21 during the third game of the World Series, Soto set a number of hitting records for young players and is now listed among all-time greats such as Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Mel Ott. 

Adding to his luster, Soto became the youngest player in MLB history to slug three home runs in the World Series, which the Nationals won over Houston, 4 games to 3.

After his 8th inning hit clinched the Wild Card game for the Nationals, Soto told reporters that he and his family had asked God for help, according to CNS News “We just prayed before the game. And we told Him that we just need His help. You know, go help, and right now and get the opportunity and just, get on it,” he said.

Later, when he homered to help the Nationals defeat the highly-favored Dodgers in the divisional series, Soto wrote a Bible verse on Instagram saying, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you James 4:10,” according to CBNNews.

Throughout the season, Soto was seen kneeling on the field with fellow young Nationals star Victor Robles, 22, praying before games.  Like many major league baseball players, both men were raised in the Dominican Republic.  Like Soto, Robles also leaves no doubt about his faith. His Twitter handle is #GodInFront.

At the end of the season, Robles missed five games with a strained hamstring, then helped lead the Nats to a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

“A lot of times when you have an injury like the one I have, it’s a couple months to come back from,” Robles told USA Today. “I was able to come back from it in a little more than a week and a half. I had a lot of faith in God and I knew that he was going to heal me as quickly as possible.”

“Maybe I Just Want to Be Normal”

Another prominent National who is not shy about his faith is all-star third baseman Anthony Rendon, 29, who had a monster season that put him in the Most Valuable Player conversation.

Leading the National League with 126 runs batted in, and with a .319 batting average, 117 runs scored and 34 home runs, plus stellar play at third base, Rendon is easily one of the best players in baseball, and a role model. With a perpetually infectious grin, it’s clear he loves what he’s doing. 

In the second game of the World Series, Rendon hit a two-run double to rally his team. He had key hits throughout the playoffs, finishing with a .328 total batting average and 15 runs batted in.

Amid all the adulation, he reminds people of his priorities, which are his faith, his family —   wife Amanda and daughter Emma — and baseball, in that order. 

“Point-blank, I don’t want to raise a family in baseball. Maybe I just want to be normal. I want to go home, be a dad, take them to school. That’s more important to me than baseball,” he told the Washington Post.  

Along with some other team members, Rendon has appeared at Faith Day at Nationals Park, when players stay after a game to give Christian testimonies.

“I want to be known as a Christian baseball player and I’m still trying to grow into that. But in the end, I want to be more Christian than baseball player,” he told Houston First Baptist Church Pastor Gregg Matte in a video posted to Instagram last year that was quoted by CBNNews. “If I just try to stay in the Word and try to surround myself with good people and have good community, I think that will just guide me on that path.” 

It’s not clear if Rendon, a free agent, will remain with the Nationals. He may sign with another team.

“You definitely think about it,” he told the Washington Post. “You want to plan for the future. But I’ve come to learn your plans don’t always come to fruition. Obviously, with my faith, too, I don’t want to seem like it’s all about me, me, me. It takes away from what I do for Him, for the Lord. I’m taking it slow, maybe?”

Big Things in a Small Package

Another prominent Christian player who took the field during the World Series is Houston second baseman Jose Altuve. A six-time All-Star and three-time batting champion, he’s the 2018 American League MVP.

Signing with the Astros in 2007, he was called up to the major leagues in 2011 and was an all-star the very next year. In 2017, he led the Astros to their first World Series championship, and back to the Series this year. 

Altuve,29, is often seen thanking God while running around the bases after slugging a double or home run and he speaks freely of his faith in interviews. 

“I really wanted to do it, and if God give me the ability to play, it was because he wanted me to go all the way through,” he was quoted by CBN Sports. “And I thank God for everything because he’s real. It’s hard to believe that like what you dreamed as a kid is real life now.”

Since he stands 5-foot-6 inches tall in a sport where the average height is about 6 feet, he is often asked how he excels. 

“His answer is simple – prayer,” CBN Sports reports.

“Before I leave my house every single day, I ask God for health for my family and for me,” he told CBN Sports. “And then when I’m about to play the game I just pray and I ask God to keep every single player and every single people on the stands healthy and that we just can go there and compete in a good way.”

“I think God has blessed me only because I let him control everything that is around me,” he noted. “My faith in him and my love for him is just to not worry about just little things. It’s just to worry about my faith in him and that way he’s going to put in order everything around me.”

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