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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

FG - Juan Soto Looks Like the Best Teenage Hitter in History

Jeff Sullivan is not even being hyperbolic to get clicks! Really!!

(Please don’t watch him play left field, though. TNX!)

Bote Man Posted: August 07, 2018 at 08:48 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fangraphs, hitting, juan soto, nationals

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   1. PreservedFish Posted: August 07, 2018 at 09:52 AM (#5722210)
What type of fielder is he? Are we talking Juan Gonzalez quality?
   2. Rally Posted: August 07, 2018 at 10:04 AM (#5722223)
Possibly. If I have to pick today I'll still go with Mel Ott, but Soto is in very good position to be #1 when the season is over. He's a lefty like Ott with similar control of the strike zone. Ott's 2nd season saw him hit a career best 42 homers while leading the league in walks.
   3. BDC Posted: August 07, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5722254)
Are we talking Juan Gonzalez quality?


Not sure if you meant this as "Hey, if he's Juan Gonzalez he'll do" or "Jeez, I hope he's not as bad as Juan Gonzalez" :)

Gonzalez came up as a center fielder, and in his early 20s was fast enough, with a strong enough arm, to start there for a couple of years. Later on he was definitely a "can live with it" right fielder. And later than that, he couldn't move fifteen feet without pulling a hamstring :(
   4. Zonk is Just the Right Amount of Wrought Posted: August 07, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5722285)
Kind of mind-boggling, the talent that has flowed through DC the last few years...

Despite the fact that I think they make for a far scarier postseason foe than Philly or Atlanta (and despite the fact that Cubs appear content to just coast on the wings of a Javy in their hopes to even MAKE the postseason), I'd like to see the Nats get there.

Big series with Atlanta starting today...
   5. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 07, 2018 at 11:20 AM (#5722293)
Possibly. If I have to pick today I'll still go with Mel Ott, but Soto is in very good position to be #1 when the season is over. He's a lefty like Ott with similar control of the strike zone. Ott's 2nd season saw him hit a career best 42 homers while leading the league in walks.

But that was when he was 20, and it was his 4th season, not his 2nd.** Through his age 17-19 seasons, Ott had 19 home runs in 241 games, with a 125 OPS+ and 4.0 WAR.

Soto is still 19, and in 66 games he's got 13 home runs, a 156 OPS+ and 2.0 WAR.

I'd take Soto as the best teenage hitter.

** In his first 3 seasons, Ott had 0, 1, and 18 home runs.
   6. Rally Posted: August 07, 2018 at 01:36 PM (#5722415)
Ott wasn't a regular at 17-18. I won't hold it against him that he was on a major league bench instead of playing in rookie ball. Ott's age 19 season was 500 PA of a 139 OPS+. I'll take that over 278 PA of 156.

Soto may be the best teenage hitter ever, but he's got some more work to do in the final 2 months. He have to keep hitting as well as he has, but if he plays nearly every day he needs to maintain a 120 or so rate to stay ahead of Mel. This is a kid who has played 105 games so far after only getting into 83 games for 2016-17 combined. If he slumps towards the finish he certainly won't be the first kid to do so when playing a long season for the first time.
   7. Brian Posted: August 07, 2018 at 01:44 PM (#5722422)
It's only 1 AB but I saw him get brushed back with a 1-2 pitch and then when the next pitch was low and away drive it the other way for a hit. Veteran AB for a 19 year old. Kid's got some hitting smarts.
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 07, 2018 at 01:48 PM (#5722427)
Not only is Soto a teenager, but he only had 35 career PAs above A ball before being called up this year. Keep an eye on him, he could be something special. The other thing to remember is that the Nationals 21-year old Victor Robles, now on injury rehab, was generally ranked ahead of Soto at the start of the season.
   9. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: August 07, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5722447)
Soto just hit a ball to the wall that landed in Inciarte's glove, then when the glove hit the wall the ball was flung back toward the infield only to be caught by Duvall backing up the play. Umpire erroneously called it a hit, and Soto was ruled out for passing Turner on the basepaths as Turner retreated to first in an attempt not to be doubled off on what he correctly recognized as a catch. Filing my protest now for when this question comes down to a Soto single that wasn't.
   10. Rally Posted: August 07, 2018 at 02:10 PM (#5722450)
I saw him in his brief time in AA, he was 0-5 in a doubleheader but did draw 3 walks. It's hard to tell in games like that if you're watching elite strike zone judgment or just a minor league pitcher who can't throw strikes. At the time I thought he was only the 2nd best teenager on the field.
   11. bunyon Posted: August 07, 2018 at 02:12 PM (#5722451)
Lance, the safe call wouldn't be overturned on review (to be fair, it wouldn't have been overturned had it been called an out). The ball could have hit the fence. It might not have. No way to go there but with the call on the field.

Same result either way: Turner on first, Soto out.


I think the Braves should have realized they weren't doubling Turner off and tagged second then tagged Soto. Then challenged the call. I don't think it gets overturned but they might have gotten two.
   12. bunyon Posted: August 07, 2018 at 02:23 PM (#5722461)
That feeling when you remember you're a AAA pitcher.
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 07, 2018 at 02:24 PM (#5722462)
Back-to-back HRs by Harper & Zimmerman give Nationals a 2-1 lead over Braves.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 07, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5722508)
#13 was intended for OmniChatter, oops. Braves just IBB Soto to pitch to Anthony Rendon. Soto 3 short of the Teenage IBB Record. #respect.
   15. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: August 07, 2018 at 03:26 PM (#5722515)
I could've sworn I saw a pretty good 19-year-old just a coupla years ago. Played for Soto's team, too.
   16. John DiFool2 Posted: August 07, 2018 at 03:31 PM (#5722518)
[getting OT] Should a runner be 'penalized' in such circumstances? Is he supposed to hop in a time machine and go see the replay at the moment the ball hits the glove so as to know what to do? I think they've got to change that and get rid of said out if a replay is involved.
   17. Rally Posted: August 07, 2018 at 03:44 PM (#5722531)
I could've sworn I saw a pretty good 19-year-old just a coupla years ago. Played for Soto's team, too.


Kind of amazing that two of them play for the same team within such a short timespan. Seasons even remotely like this are incredibly rare. Setting the search criteria well below what Soto has done so far (min 250+ PA, 100 OPS+, 10 HR) yields only 7 players in history. Even young studs like Trout and A-Rod didn't establish themselves until they were 20.

Before these two you have to go back to Griffey. Before that, Tony C and Ed Kranepool (barely qualified at 100 OPS+, 10 HR) who both did it in 1964. Before that, only Mantle and Ott.
   18. bunyon Posted: August 07, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5722534)
Joe Simpson just implied Soto isn't 19. He said, "If he's 19, he has gotten his man-growth. He is big and strong."

Simpson is very flattering of him overall and maybe it was just a figure of speech.
   19. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 07, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5722542)
Joe Simpson is an idiot.
   20. bunyon Posted: August 07, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5722553)
In case it wasn't clear, I agree with 19. I don't mind him as an announcer when he sticks to the game, but when he goes farther afield, he's terrible.

Plus, he's a sooner fan. Yuck.
   21. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 07, 2018 at 04:05 PM (#5722559)
Has he gotten over Chase Utley's anti-cancer t-shirt yet?
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 07, 2018 at 05:49 PM (#5722658)
Mike Trout's first Major League hit --- a run scoring bunt

Mike Trout's first home run, a game icer in front of all his family and friends in Baltimore.
   23. Bote Man Posted: August 07, 2018 at 06:38 PM (#5722690)
The other thing to remember is that the Nationals 21-year old Victor Robles, now on injury rehab, was generally ranked ahead of Soto at the start of the season.

I think that Robles won't be ranked ahead of Soto now that both have shown their abilities at the MLB level. But I would be most delighted to be wrong and discover that Robles is an even better hitter AND fielder than Juan Soto.

Ahhh, Bryce Harper is gonna look good in <other team's uniform> next year.
   24. Bote Man Posted: August 07, 2018 at 07:19 PM (#5722717)
Lefty slugger Juan Soto just mashed an 0-2 four-seam fastball from lefty pitcher Sean Newcomb into the left field stands. This is the farthest left things have been in D.C. for months and months.
   25. eric Posted: August 07, 2018 at 07:29 PM (#5722725)
Mike Trout's first Major League hit --- a run scoring bunt


The best part of that video was the announcer getting excited about "Mark" Trout's speed.
   26. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 07, 2018 at 08:26 PM (#5722753)
Soto is poised to break one of MLB oldest records, the BB mark for an age-19 season, established by Will Smalley in 1890. The leaderboard after this afternoon's game:

Age-19 Season Bases on Balls Leaders
1. Will Smalley 60 1890
2. Rusty Staub 59 1963
3. Bryce Harper 56 2012
4. George Davis 53 1890
5. Mel Ott 52 1928
6. Juan Soto 49 2018
7. Buddy Lewis 47 1936
8. Ben Conroy 45 1890
9. Ken Griffey 44 1989
10. Mickey Mantle 43 1951
   27. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 07, 2018 at 08:33 PM (#5722758)
Can't wait for that moment when Soto goes to embrace the Smalley family rooting him on from the stands.
   28. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 07, 2018 at 08:44 PM (#5722762)
Can't wait for that moment when Soto goes to embrace the Smalley family rooting him on from the stands.

They may be distant relatives. From Wikipedia:
Sadly, Will Smalley would never get another chance to prove himself on the ballfield. In late September, while living in Syracuse, Smalley took ill with stomach cancer; his uncle William brought Will to the older man's home in Bay City, Michigan.[2] The young ballplayer declined rapidly and died on October 11, 1891, at the age of 20; his remains were buried in Oakland.

Before the passing of Jay Dahl three-quarters of a century later, Smalley was the youngest at death of any player in Major League history.

He once held at least two MLB records.
   29. BDC Posted: August 07, 2018 at 08:59 PM (#5722770)
Wow, 1890 was the Year of Walking Teenagers.

I reckon several factors were at work: in 1889 the count needed for a base on balls dropped from five to four; and in 1890 the Players League arrived, thinning the pitching talent pool while pressing younger players into service.
   30. Sunday silence Posted: August 07, 2018 at 09:16 PM (#5722780)
i am always skeptical of these : "expansion hurts the talent pool and pitching suffers..." arguments.

For instance, did BaBIP go up in 1890? Did KOs go down? What about ba?

are BBs somehow a function of young batters??? maybe...
   31. BDC Posted: August 07, 2018 at 09:52 PM (#5722806)
You’re right, of course, hard to say if pitching talent suffered in 1890. Though it does occur to me that it’s easy for a manager to give a young hitter the take sign, and impossible for him to dictate that a pitcher get the ball over the plate.
   32. bunyon Posted: August 07, 2018 at 10:00 PM (#5722809)
i am always skeptical of these : "expansion hurts the talent pool and pitching suffers..." arguments.

Maybe I don't understand; how does expansion not thin the talent pool? Are there infinite number of MLB caliber players?
   33. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 07, 2018 at 10:12 PM (#5722815)
For instance, did BaBIP go up in 1890? Did KOs go down? What about ba?

Wrong question to ask. The question is did those stats improve among players who were already in the league? And I don't know the answer to it, but I'd be very surprised if the answer was no.

If you expand the player pool without finding an untapped source of talent, how would it not lead to better numbers for the people who were already there, pretty much all of whom should be better than the guys that just got added?
   34. Sunday silence Posted: August 08, 2018 at 07:43 AM (#5722920)

Maybe I don't understand; how does expansion not thin the talent pool? Are there infinite number of MLB caliber players?


Did you read the rest of what I said: How does expansion hurt pitching but nothing else? that makes no sense...

Sure pitchers are worse on the whole. And what about batters? Arent they worse on the whole as well? \

Every time this discussion comes up someone is bound to mention this and people just accept it. "Sure pitching got worse the talent pool thinned."

Yeah you're right.
   35. Sunday silence Posted: August 08, 2018 at 07:47 AM (#5722923)

If you expand the player pool without finding an untapped source of talent, how would it not lead to better numbers for the people who were already there, pretty much all of whom should be better than the guys that just got added?


OK so why would pitching numbers in particular be worse? is the ratio of incoming new batters the same as ratio of incoming new pitchers?


So why would pitching suffer? Not to mention the even more specific thesis: That pitchers got wilder.
   36. Sunday silence Posted: August 08, 2018 at 07:50 AM (#5722924)
The question is did those stats improve among players who were already in the league? And I don't know the answer to it, but I'd be very surprised if the answer was no.


what does this even mean? What does "improve" mean in your sentence?

Is more BB an "improvement?" Is higher batting avg. an improvement? What is improving...???

For instance: I would not think that the KO rates for veteran pitchers would have improved. that would surely get worse due to the rule change.

The entire thing seems to be driven by a rule change since everyone is noting the rule change and its effect on walks; there might be some expansion/dilution effect but Id need to see more data. i would think if that was a real thing (dilution) then pitching statistics should get worse AMONG pitchers in all sorts of measures not just BB.
   37. Bote Man Posted: August 08, 2018 at 09:09 AM (#5722959)
In which a speck of dust derails this BBTF train of thought.

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