Shohei Ohtani is the very best participant in baseball. Mike Trout is the very best pure place participant in baseball. Juan Soto is the very best hitter in baseball, and as a lot as I really like Mike Trout… he’s not shut. Juan Soto is doing one thing Trout has by no means executed. In Juan Soto’s final 40 video games, he has an OPS of 1.253 and a batting common of .386. In Mike Trout’s complete profession, one of many best begins to a profession the baseball world has ever seen, he has by no means completed such a feat. Trout has had a number of cases the place he’s recorded an OPS higher than 1.2, however he’s by no means executed so whereas sustaining a batting common throughout that streak of higher than .380.
This streak by Soto is ridiculous.
The Washington Nationals should not going to make the playoffs in 2021. Whereas the crew nonetheless had a small likelihood of reaching the postseason across the commerce deadline, the crew unofficially conceded the season after they traded Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers on July 30 — two of their largest superstars shipped to the alternative aspect of the nation. Nevertheless, the Nationals’ group made it abundantly clear that Soto wouldn’t be out there for commerce discussions, and that call has paid off enormously and instantly. Because the finish of the commerce deadline, Soto is slashing .378/.555/.669 for an OPS of 1.223 with 11 dwelling runs, 34 RBI, and an astonishing 59 walks. He’s walked greater than as soon as per recreation for nearly two months! That’s greater than only a good batter’s eye. That’s worry. That’s opposing managers having the bejesus scared out of them. That’s respect from opposing pitchers.
Because the commerce deadline, listed here are a listing of statistics that Juan Soto leads all of Main League Baseball in amongst hitters with a minimum of 160 plate appearances:
BB% (28.0 %)
Batting Common (.378)
On-Base Share (.555)
That’s a whole lot of stats, and people are all very optimistic. I need to take somewhat little bit of time to look extra deeply at that final one although. O-Swing% is a sign of what share of pitches exterior the strike zone Juan Soto swings at. His mark of 14.5 % for the reason that begin of August, is 4.6 % decrease than the following closest participant on this checklist, Joey Gallo (19.1 %). That’s a large distinction. I extremely worth plate self-discipline. If a hitter has an outstanding eye, that can drive pitchers to throw into that hitter’s wheelhouse. Should you do swing at pitches exterior the zone, you higher be capable of foul these off, since you’re not going to get a whole lot of good contact on these pitches. Soto avoids that step completely, and that unbelievable self-discipline has undoubtedly performed an enormous position in how Soto has been capable of accumulate 59 walks in lower than two months.
An enormous perception on the earth of baseball is that the excessive fastball, in a pitcher’s depend, is everybody’s kryptonite. When the hitter sees a ball excessive within the zone in a nasty depend, they naturally assume that the pitcher will throw filth at them. Why would they toss something straight when they’re up within the depend? The hitter assumes the pitcher missed his spot and the pitch is about to drop into the zone. Nevertheless, as soon as the hitter decides to swing, it’s too late for them to comprehend the pitch isn’t breaking down, and so they often don’t have the bat pace to catch as much as the excessive warmth. This results in a whole lot of swings and misses. As nice a participant as Mike Trout is, that top fastball has been one in every of his solely weaknesses. He’s improved on it tremendously for the reason that begin of his profession, but it surely’s nonetheless a number of pitchers’ go-to technique when going through the Angels’ slugger.
In 2021, Mike Trout whiffed at 38 % of pitches excessive and tight, 26 % of pitches up and center, and 50 % of pitches up and away. Most of those whiffs come from fastballs. Good pitchers don’t go away off-speed stuff up within the zone, so we are able to safely assume most of those whiffs are from fastballs. These percentages are the highest of any space of the strike zone towards Trout. This was additionally the case for Trout in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2016. So, even after Trout supposedly “mounted his largest weak spot” again in 2015, pitchers nonetheless like to go after Trout with fastballs up within the zone. This technique doesn’t work on Juan Soto.
Whereas Juan Soto additionally struggles to make contact with pitches excessive within the zone, he usually simply doesn’t swing at them. Mike Trout has a complete of 19 whiffs on excessive pitches within the zone in 2021. He’s performed in 36 video games. Soto has whiffed at 32 such pitches in 142 video games. Because the begin of August, he hasn’t swung at a single fastball up within the zone. That’s a recreation changer. When a pitcher’s go-to approach doesn’t work, that adjustments the whole lot. How are you alleged to get this man out? He doesn’t swing at pitches exterior the zone in any respect. He doesn’t fall for the oldest trick within the e book, and once you problem him, Soto is hitting .378 with a 90.9 % contact charge on pitches contained in the zone. There’s no getting round him.
Juan Soto’s scorching stretch might not be as eye-popping as Bryce Harper’s 17 dwelling runs or as flashy as Salvador Perez’s climb to the highest of the MLB dwelling run leaderboard. Nevertheless, I’d argue that it has been extra spectacular. I’m not saying that Soto deserves the NL MVP Award, however perhaps he must be getting extra consideration than he has been. The race is extensively thought-about a two-person race between Harper and Fernando Tatis, however Soto has come on so robust on the finish of the season that any main statistician ought to take a look at this stretch and marvel at simply how good a hitter Juan Soto is. The man is barely 22 years previous. He’s nowhere near his bodily prime, however the world higher prepare, as a result of when he’s… we would not be prepared for that sort of dominance.