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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

WaPo: Tom Boswell: Juan Soto Has Been The Best Teenage Hitter Ever

Juan Soto’s superlative age-19 season finally getting some attention:

But right now, Soto has generated more offense than any teenager ever, according to FanGraphs, which puts his value at 29.2 runs. And Soto has done it in just 421 plate appearances. To compare, Harper was worth 16.8 runs in 597 plate appearances.

Ott holds many marks for 19-year-olds, but perhaps the most impressive is his on-base-plus-slugging percentage, the most widely-used catch-all offensive stat in baseball. Ott’s mark of .921 dwarfs everyone except Tony Conigliaro (.883), who got to 100 homers faster than any American Leaguer before a fastball hit his eye and derailed his career. Next best was Harper, well back at .817

Then the dropoff in OPS at 19 is stunning, considering the greatness of most of the players in the top 10. Mickey Mantle (.792). Supernova Cesar Cedeno, who had a higher career WAR through age 25 than Willie Mays. Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom. Edgar Renteria, the only outlier, who nonetheless was World Series MVP at 21. Oh, and Ty Cobb (.749) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (.748). Entering his 100th game Wednesday, Soto’s OPS was at .950.

Much more at link.

The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 12, 2018 at 03:26 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: great baseball players, juan soto, ken griffey, jr., mel ott, mickey mantle, teenagers, ty cobb, washington nationals

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: September 12, 2018 at 03:49 PM (#5743078)
With 17 games to go for the Nats, Juan Soto has 421 PA. He needs 80-81 more to be eligible for league lead (or far enough ahead of #2 to take an 0'fer however many pa short of eligibility he is)

NL OB% leaders with at least 400 pa

Joey Votto, .421
Juan Soto, .421

Has any teenager ever led his league in OB%?
   2. Endless Trash Posted: September 12, 2018 at 03:57 PM (#5743085)
No teenager who qualified for the batting title has ever had a 400 OBP before, so I'm guessing not.
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 12, 2018 at 04:25 PM (#5743107)
From TFA:
“Most great young players think they can hit anything. So they swing at everything,” said four-time all-star catcher Matt Wieters. “Soto doesn’t.”

Also, the submission shortened the headline of Boswell's article a bit, omitting the "And It Doesn't Look Like A Fluke" ending. More greatness of Juan Soto at BB-Ref's Age-19 MLB Leaderboard.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: September 12, 2018 at 04:35 PM (#5743113)
bb-ref has an age-19 leaderboard and a through-age-19 leaderboard.

Always impressive when a current player cracks one of these lists.

Ott's OBP at age 19 was .397 which was very impressive, but couldn't crack the top 10 in 1928 (and was 101 points behind Hornsby). Third place is Renteria's .358 so I don't think there are any league leaders.

As TFA states, there is a big dropoff less than 20. Lots of guys had big age 20 seasons, but relatively pedestrian seasons by Mantle & Cobb make the age-19 leaderboard.

Edit -- coke to YC
   5. phredbird Posted: September 12, 2018 at 04:57 PM (#5743122)

he's still got a month to come to earth a little bit.

i'm kinda rooting for that ... as a native new orleanian i have a soft spot for ol' mel ott.
   6. Batman Posted: September 12, 2018 at 05:26 PM (#5743138)
Cap Anson won the OBP title when he was 20, when his team played 44 games. Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, and Ted Williams won it at 21. Levi Meyerle in 1871 and Pete Browning in 1882 also won it at 21 in shorter seasons.
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 12, 2018 at 05:36 PM (#5743144)
“Most great young players think they can hit anything. So they swing at everything,” said four-time all-star catcher Matt Wieters. “Soto doesn’t.”

Say, can Soto moonlight as the Yankees' offseason batting coach?
   8. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 12, 2018 at 05:39 PM (#5743147)
he's still got a month to come to earth a little bit.

i'm kinda rooting for that ... as a native new orleanian i have a soft spot for ol' mel ott.

one oddity about Ott lifetime:
everybody knows his massive home-road split for homers (323-188), but the Polo Grounds did the opposite to his other extra base hits
2B :181-306
3B: 21-51
   9. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 12, 2018 at 06:06 PM (#5743158)
I'm guessing that "Thomas Boswell" is now the third or fourth guy writing under the same name?
   10. Perry Posted: September 12, 2018 at 06:56 PM (#5743176)
I'm guessing that "Thomas Boswell" is now the third or fourth guy writing under the same name?


Come on, he's only 70.
   11. QLE Posted: September 12, 2018 at 07:20 PM (#5743192)
The fact that half his columns reference the time he spent hanging around with Samuel Johnson, on the other hand.....
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 12, 2018 at 10:33 PM (#5743301)
The terrific teenager hit his 19th HR tonight, moving him past Mel Ott for 3rd place on the age-19 leaderboard linked in #3, as well as boosting his OPS to .954.
   13. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: September 13, 2018 at 06:42 AM (#5743375)
one oddity about Ott lifetime:
everybody knows his massive home-road split for homers (323-188), but the Polo Grounds did the opposite to his other extra base hits
2B :181-306
3B: 21-51
That looks like just what you'd expect for a guy who tailored his approach to take advantage of a short porch in his home field. Doubles and triples on the road went into the stands at home. He had 20 more extra base hits on the road for his career, which is just one for every full season he played.
   14. DavidFoss Posted: September 13, 2018 at 09:01 AM (#5743392)
I always like sticking up for Ott. 188 HR is still a lot of road HR's in the NL in the 1930s. He'd have ~400 HR if he had played an eighth of his games at home instead of half.

I took a fresh look at his splits. His BABIP numbers at the PG are significantly lower (.271/.315) which makes sense from the larger OF, but also because of the huge foul territory there. Also, the HR's had a much more reasonable split when he was younger. He was sitting at 57% after 1940 (age 31) and then had a 100/23 split (81%) for the rest of his career. That included a miserable 1943 season which he turned into an OPS+ of 134 thanks to 95 BB and an 18/0 HR split.
   15. dlf Posted: September 13, 2018 at 09:07 AM (#5743395)
I'm guessing that "Thomas Boswell" is now the third or fourth guy writing under the same name?


Boswell, writing about the Weaver-era Orioles, was a large part of my introduction to both good writing and sabermetrics. Boswell mails in most of his stuff these days, but he had a Trout-like peak.

   16. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 13, 2018 at 10:02 AM (#5743449)
Boswell, writing about the Weaver-era Orioles, was a large part of my introduction to both good writing and sabermetrics. Boswell mails in most of his stuff these days, but he had a Trout-like peak.

Boz graduated from Amherst in 1969 and began working for the Post almost immediately. He was one of the best modern day game reporters I've ever read in the 70's and early 80's, with a deadline style that couldn't be beaten, but once he left the Orioles beat the quality of his writing declined noticeably. His best writing after than was on golf, not baseball.
   17. Sean Forman Posted: September 13, 2018 at 12:15 PM (#5743588)
Acuña could lead the NL in slugging as well. Currently at .575 and arenado is at .563.
   18. dlf Posted: September 13, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5743598)
Sean - as long as you're here ... do you add the oh-fers for other leaderboards? I note that Acuna's 151 OPS+ would be second in the league if he had enough PAs to qualify, but isn't listed.
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 13, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5743631)
The Age-19 OPS Leaders:
1. Juan Soto .954 2018
2. Mel Ott .921 1928
3. Tony Conigliaro .883 1964
4. Bryce Harper .817 2012
5. Mickey Mantle .792 1951
6. Cesar Cedeno .790 1970
7. Freddie Lindstrom .761 1925
8. Edgar Renteria .757 1996
9. Ty Cobb .749 1906
10. Ken Griffey Jr. .748 1989

Ott's record has stood for 90 years, and Soto is in the process of besting it by a healthy margin. Sure, they're a couple of weeks left this season, and one should be cautious until a player repeats (or improves) his performance across several seasons, but what we're seeing now is extraordinary.
   20. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: September 13, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5743861)
Hey, didn't the Nats have a pretty good teenager a couple of years ago? Whatever happened to him?
   21. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: September 13, 2018 at 05:18 PM (#5743882)
Fun fact: Soto has hit .300 for every team/season in his career.

2016: .361 at GCL Nationals and .429 at Auburn (A-)
2017: .320 at GCL Nationals and .360 at Hagerstown (A)
2018: .373 at Hagerstown (A), .371 at Potomac (A+), .323 at Harrisburg (AA) and .305 at Washington.

How many players have hit .300 for four different teams in the same year?
   22. Adam Starblind Posted: September 13, 2018 at 07:33 PM (#5743967)
I'm guessing that "Thomas Boswell" is now the third or fourth guy writing under the same name?


Like a Dread Pirate Boswell?
   23. Sean Forman Posted: September 13, 2018 at 10:57 PM (#5744145)
Sean - as long as you're here ... do you add the oh-fers for other leaderboards? I note that Acuna's 151 OPS+ would be second in the league if he had enough PAs to qualify, but isn't listed.


We don't include it for OPS+. It would be overly complicated given how we calculate it. We do add the 0-fers for BA, SLG, OBP.
   24. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 14, 2018 at 10:50 PM (#5744734)
Soto hit his 20th HR, and the RBI also broke a tie with Ken Griffey, Jr. for 6th on the Age-19 Leaderboard. His 2 runs scored tonight also passed Mel Ott & Tony C. in that category.

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