Juan Soto has taken the baseball world by storm even while the Washington Nationals struggle. Can he win the NL Rookie of the Year award?
In 33 games and 129 plate appearances, Soto is batting .318/.436/.564 with 15 extra-base hits.
His opposite-field power and success against lefties (1.250 OPS) have been astonishing, but his much-ballyhooed patience at 19 years old is what really sets him apart. Soto’s 17.3 percent walk rate ranks 10th among all MLBers with at least 120 plate appearances.
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At his current blistering pace, Soto would be just the fifth rookie since 2010 to post an OPS over 1.000 (Aaron Judge, Rhys Hoskins, Matt Olson, and Gary Sanchez). We could see the rest of the league make an adjustment to Soto at the plate soon, but he is currently hitting as well as anyone in the NL.
But as with every 19-year-old, even the best ones come with some rough edges. For Soto, that happens to be his defense. In just over a month, Soto has already collected minus-4 defensive runs saved.
Advanced fielding stats can be pretty volatile, but Soto also fails to pass the eye test. He has had trouble judging line drives over his head, and even when he makes the catch, he looks a little unsteady gathering himself under fly balls.
Still, Juan Soto’s meteoric rise from Single-A to the majors in less than two months is incredibly rare. The Nats will definitely live with some defensive issues for now, especially while he feasts on opposing pitchers.
Here are several other candidates competing for the NL Rookie of the Year award and how they compare to the Nats’ wunderkind.