Washington Nationals: Comparing Bryce Harper and Juan Soto as rookies
By Tobi Altizer
Bryce Harper and Juan Soto were both called up to the Washington Nationals when they were 19. We take a look at their rookie years side by side.
Juan Soto has been the talk of the Washington Nationals since he was called up in late May. While brought up primarily to fill in after an injury, Soto took the opportunity he was given and has been a mainstay in the lineup, alongside a former teenage sensation, Bryce Harper.
Soto has a lot in common with the Nationals’ other corner outfielder, Bryce Harper. Both were called up to the majors at age 19. Both put together campaigns worth of Rookie of the Year. Both had D.C. buzzing about what they can do down the road.
The one major difference between Harper and Soto’s rookie years is the circumstances of their call-up. Juan Soto was brought up to fill in when injuries left holes in the Nats’ outfield. Bryce Harper was called up to claim his spot as a star in the Nats lineup after he was taken first overall.
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Harper was incredible at age 19, but this year, Soto might have actually been better. Harper played over 20 more games his rookie season than Soto played this year, but Soto finished with the same amount of home runs and better numbers in RBI, BB, AVG, and OBP.
Bryce Harper finished his rookie year slashing .270/.340/.477, while Juan Soto ended his rookie year slashing .292/.406/.517. Not only were Soto’s numbers better than Harper’s rookie year, but Harper has only surpassed those numbers twice in his seven-year career, 2015 and 2017.
The most impressive thing about the young Dominican this year was his plate discipline. As a 19-year old, he had an on-base percentage of over .400. If Soto had qualified, he would’ve ranked fourth in the league in behind Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Joey Votto.
Bryce Harper’s numbers from his rookie year were good enough to win him NL RoY honors in 2012. This year, Juan Soto is in a race with Ronald Acuña for Rookie of the Year. Soto had an incredible rookie year and winning the Rookie of the Year trophy would just be icing on the cake.
The Washington Nationals have a star in the making. Juan Soto proved he belongs in the big leagues this year, now he hopes to build on this year and become even better. If Bryce Harper leaves DC this summer, soon, Juan Soto may be the face of the Washington Nationals.