Nats’ Juan Soto deserves NL MVP Award
Juan Soto’s NL MVP case was bolstered by surge after All-Star break
Less than two years after hoisting the 2019 World Series trophy, Juan Soto saw his world champion Washington Nationals team be dismantled. This has not deterred the 2021 National League MVP finalist from pursuing greatness.
In 2020, he led the NL with a .351 batting average, and MLB with a .490 on-base percentage and .695 slugging. That year, he came in fifth in the NL MVP voting even though he outperformed every NL player with an OPS of 1.185, the highest posted by anyone since 2004.
Despite a slow start, likely caused by a left shoulder strain, which landed him on the IL for two weeks in late April, Soto solidified himself as one of, if not the best hitter in baseball.
Even after seeing teammates continue to be dealt mid-season, all he did was live up to his Ruthian moniker, “Childish Bambino.”
|Team Record||82-80 (.506)||65-97 (.401)||79-83 (.488)|
Now, the 23-year-old outfielder from Santo Domingo again finds himself among two others duking it out for the MVP award. Though the Phillies’ Bryce Harper and the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. certainly had phenomenal 2021 campaigns, Soto deserves to take the MVP trophy home.
Here are some reasons why:
Why Juan Soto Deserves the Award
The level of plate discipline we witnessed out of Soto this season was truly historic. This is evidenced by his .465 on-base percentage, the highest OBP since Chipper Jones posted a .470 OBP in 2008.
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To reach this number, Soto drew an extraordinary number of walks (145). This is 34 more than the next guy, Joey Gallo, who walked 111 times. It also is the most a player has been walked since Barry Bonds drew 232 walks in 2004.
Soto also set himself apart by limiting the number of times he struck out. In the age of the launch angle, pitchers are turning to high fastballs to force batters into weak contact.
However, Soto just doesn’t fall for it.
What’s more, Soto walked (145) more than he struck out (93) this season. This is something no other player did this season.
Another reason why Soto should win the award is because he posted a second half for the ages. After a slow first half, which saw him post a .283 batting average and a .851 OPS, Soto returned to his dominating ways.
After the All-Star break, Soto hit .348 with a 1.164 OPS. Most impressively, he reached base more than half of his plate appearances (.525 OBP) in the second half. His 87 walks after the break was only exceeded by five other players all season.
You simply cannot overlook the dominance this NL MVP finalist had at the plate this season. Sure, the Washington Nationals (65-97) finished last in the NL East, but is that because of him?
My guess is that it’s not.
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