Former Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber believes Juan Soto is the best in the game.
Former Chicago Cubs outfielder and recent Washington Nationals-signee Kyle Schwarber had some high praise for his new teammate Juan Soto. He didn’t say he was ‘coming up.’ Or that he was on pace for bigger things. Nope. Schwarber said he was the ‘best hitter in the game.’
Now, I get what Schwarber was going for here. But Soto isn’t the best hitter in the game, sorry. Ever heard of Mike Trout? Over the last decade, the Angels outfielder has compiled a .304/.418/.582 line for a 172 wRC+. That’s all you need to know.
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Soto, in just three years, has a slash of .295/.415/.557 with a wRC+ 152. That’s not a cavernous gap between Trout and the Nats star – and while he might not be the best just yet – recent trends suggest he may be on his way to becoming top dog.
Soto brought his strikeout rate down to 14.3 from 20.0. He also raised his walk rate to 20.9 from 16.4. He’s continuing to learn – and that’s a bad sign for pitchers.
Pairing Soto with Schwarber in D.C. is a pitcher’s nightmare. Add in former Pirates slugger Josh Bell and you have a trio that has the potential to wreak havoc on National League pitching staffs in 2021.
In a shortened season, Soto had a slash of .351/.490/.695/1.185 with an OPS+ of 212. He was among the league leaders in every offensive category. He also led the league with intentional base-on-balls with 12. You can’t pitch to the man and if you put him on for free, there’s a good chance he’s gonna cause problems with his legs.
So while Schwarber might be onto something in his praise for his new teammate, the jury is still out – and will be for awhile. Trout is, hands-down, the best player in baseball and the recipient of three AL MVPs and a Rookie of the Year. He’s been doing this for a decade and shows zero signs of slowing down. But you can’t sleep on Soto – that’s for sure.
Soto and Schwarber will give the Nationals a potent offensive mix in the outfield along with Victor Robles in center. Although he’s just guaranteed one year in Washington, you can see the lure of playing there for Schwarber, who, like Soto, has his eyes set on a second ring in 2021.