Cubs History: Geovany Soto had a monster rookie campaign

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Back in 2008, the Cubs seemingly found their next star in rookie Geovany Soto.

The Chicago Cubs are currently blessed with one of the best catching tandems in baseball with Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini. Contreras now has multiple All-Star appearances with the team and Caratini has shown flashes of greatness at the plate as well. Even in the minors, the organization is loaded with young catching talent.

Yet, neither of their tandem won a Rookie of the Year award despite their success and it is yet to see how the catching prospects will pan out. In 2008, Geovany Soto not only won the prestigious award, but did so with nearly a unanimous vote over the runner-up: division rival Joey Votto. While that great start didn’t ultimately translate to a phenomenal career for Soto, it’s worth looking back on how the former Cubs backstop dominated his fellow rookie competition.

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Soto played a few games in the years prior, but it never really translated into much success, outside of 2007 in which he hit for 174 OPS+ in 18 games. His first full year in the majors was going to prove just how good he really was. He wasted no time, hitting 16 home runs in the first half of the season and posting a slash line of .288/.369/.522. That production earned him a spot as the starting catcher on the All-Star team, making him the first rookie catcher to ever do so.

While he wasn’t quite as good down the stretch, Soto still ended with 119 OPS+, putting him well above league average. He ended up with 84 RBI, 60 extra-base hits, and 35 doubles, good enough to lead all MLB rookies. His efforts even garnered a few MVP votes, putting him in thirteenth place in the poll. What really put him over the edge as a rookie though was that he did this all as a catcher.

Soto played a key role in leading the Cubs to the best record in the National League, though in his three postseason games, he only recorded two hits. It was an ultimately sour end to his amazing regular season performance, but the future looked bright for Soto. Unfortunately, it never came together in the long-term for the backstop and he ended his 13-year career with only 12 bWAR.

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The Cubs had what looked to be a perennial All-Star backstop in Soto, but unfortunately his career was never what they expected it to be. Still, his 2008 campaign was enough to put him among elite company as he became only the fifth catcher to win Rookie of the Year honors. Though he is now overshadowed by Contreras, Soto will still be remembered for all the potential he showed and all the excitement he provided for Cubs fans.