Don’t look now, but Juan Soto is cementing his place as NL MVP.
In another disappointing Nationals season, the only thing that matters is that the young core continues to develop and Juan Soto receives the damn respect he deserves. Sadly, the media continues to punish those whose team isn’t in the playoff picture.
With less than a month left in the season, the race for NL MVP is heating up, and the Media had painted the Padres Fernando Tatis Jr. the front runner with Bryce Harper close behind. This is a mistake.
Since the All-Star break, Soto has been putting up astronomical numbers slashing .381/.545/.713 with a 220 wRC+. On the season, “Childish Bambino” is hitting .325, with 29 homers, 92 RBIs, and an OPS of .1.029. He leads the NL in OBP (.470) and batting average (.325), is tied for fWAR (6.5), and is second in wRC+ (170) and OPS (1.029).
The notion that a player should only win MVP if his team makes the playoffs is a joke. Look at Mike Trout for example. He only made the playoffs once out of the three times he was named AL MVP.
Often compared to Hall of Famer Ted Williams, Soto displayed why on last night. Against the Reds, Soto reached base safely four times, marking the 24th time he has done so this year.
When a player is being been mentioned with one of the greatest hitters of all time, you know they are doing something right. Despite Soto’s heroics at the plate, he is being penalized for being on a last-place team while his main competition for the award is all in the playoff race.
Soto’s main competition for the award is Fernando Tatis Jr. Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman, and Max Muncy. How does Soto stack up against the opposition?
Tatis Jr.: .285 BA, 40 HRs, 94 RBIs, .988 OPS, 159 wRC+, 6.0 fWAR
Harper: .312 BA, 33 HRs, 80 RBIs, 1.050 OPS, 172 wRC+, 6.5 fWAR
Soto: .325 BA, 29 HRs, 92 RBIs, 1.029 OPS, 170 wRC+, 6.5 fWAR
Turner: .321 BA, 22 HRs, 63 RBIs, .873 OPS, 133 wRC+, 5.9 fWAR
Freeman: .302 BA, 31 HRs, 82 RBIs, .908 OPS, 138 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR
Muncy: .250 BA, 35 HRs, 90 RBIs, .906 OPS,143 wRC+, 4.7 fWAR
At first glance, the numbers are much closer than the betting odds are making it out to be. Tatis has the edge in homers and RBIs, but Harper leads in OPS, wRC+, and fWAR.
Turner and Muncy are both having solid seasons, but the two being teammates will lead to them stealing votes from each other. Freeman is an interesting case because the slugger has the Braves in the driver seat for the NL East despite the absence of Ronald Acuna Jr.
After being the front runner for the majority of the season, Tatis Jr. has started to fall off. He has been battling a shoulder injury which has hampered him at times. For now, the race should be between Harper and Soto. Harper has been the driving force behind the Phillies and has them 2.5 games back of first place in the NL East.
However, Soto has been the overall better player, posting positive metrics ( 3 DRS, 6 OOA, -0.1 UZR, 5 outfield assists) compared to Harper (-7 DRS, -6 OOA, 1.4 UZR, 8 outfield assists). He is in line to win his second straight batting title and just passed Harper for the Nats franchise record in walks in a season (131). In fact, Soto is the only qualified player in all of baseball to have more walks than strikeouts this season.