The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

The Nation’s Capital Wonderkid: Juan Soto

David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, and Sammy Sosa; the Dominican Republic has a knack for churning out some of the best baseball players of all time, and hopefully one day, Juan Soto will join this elite group.

The newest addition to the Washington Nationals is a promising talent. Soto, after 77 games, is producing at a rate nobody has seen in a Nationals rookie since Bryce Harper. Big shoes to fill, yes, but the 19 year old phenom is up to the task.

He is a stat sheet filler. Based on data provided by www.baseball-reference.com, thus far in the season Soto has a batting average (BA) of .324, 6 home runs (HR), 16 runs batted in (RBI). At this rate, assuming his BA stays consistent, he is on pace for 30 HR and 80 RBI.

Let’s put that in perspective.

Many believe Yankee’s right fielder Aaron Judge had, offensively speaking, one of the best rookie seasons the MLB has ever seen. Strikingly, Soto’s stats are right up there with Judge’s, and Judge was 23 at the time. Judge finished the year with a BA of .283, along with 50 HR and 108 RBI. No wonder he took the league by storm, those numbers are outrageous.

But the 19 year old can, and will, put up numbers like this. Maybe not this season, maybe even not next, but his extreme offensive talent at such a ripe age lends itself to an enticing argument for why Soto is a potential future MVP.

But okay, maybe Aaron Judge isn’t enough proof of how high Soto’s ceiling really is. Keep in mind, he is only 19.

Albert Pujols’ rookie season numbers: .329 BA, 37 HR, 130 RBI. Jose Abreu’s: .317 BA, 36 HR, 107 RBI. Mike Trout’s: .326 RBI, 30 HR, 83 RBI. Bryce Harper’s: .270 BA, 22 HR, 59 RBI. Giancarlo Stanton’s: .259 BA, 22 HR, 59 RBI.

These players are known in the baseball world as offensive powerhouses, and Soto, give or take a few points in each category, is right up there with these icons at, for all except Harper, a much younger age.

It seems impossible that this youngster can stay out of the ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated spotlight with these numbers, but he has. His low profile, out-of-the-spotlight attitude and approach to his game can be thanked for this, and on that same token, that is what can ensure him a long and successful MLB career.

In all sports, top prospects crash under pressure. Scouts see young athletes with the highest of ceilings, report them, and then through all of the attention and outside pressure, these prospects collapse. For Soto, staying out of this spotlight will not only keep his head clear, it’ll allow him to direct all of his worry and attention to perfecting his craft.

Assuming the Dominican steers clear of injury, he can make waves in this league.

Once Harper is out, the Nationals will have a new franchise player.

-Adam

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