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Friday, October 01, 2021

Why Juan Soto should be the National League MVP

Since the all-star break, Soto’s on-base percentage is .535. It’s a number that should be stared at and marveled over. He has reached base in more than half of his plate appearances in what approaches half the season. Given that reaching base invariably helps your team — indeed, it is the base objective of any appearance in the batter’s box — that percentage is staggering. Then, add some context: According to baseball-reference.com, here are the hitters who have reached base at a higher clip in the second half of any season in history: Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth three times apiece, Ted Williams twice, and Rogers Hornsby once.

I did not realize how well he was doing in the second half.

Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: October 01, 2021 at 01:45 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: juan soto, nationals

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   1. coppermist72 Posted: October 01, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6042881)
Amazing that he is doing all this at the age of 22. He is on track for great career. Already has a WS under his belt and is the centerpiece of the Nats.
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 01, 2021 at 05:36 PM (#6042885)
Soto is on track to the best position player in Washington MLB history, eclipsing Sam Rice, if he signs an extension with the Nationals.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2021 at 06:25 PM (#6042895)
An unusual thing about Soto relative to his recent historically great slugger comps is that he's a pretty heavy GB hitter. His career G/F ratio is 1 and he's been comfortably above that the last two years. Bonds and Frank Thomas had G/F ratios around 0.5. I thought "maybe somebody like Bagwell" but nope, he was at 0.62; Sheffield 0.66. Albert & Miggy were well below 1. Among recent guys who walk as much as they K, early Chipper is the only guy I've found with a G/F ratio around 1. Soto's still just a kid of course so, like Chipper, he might become more FB-focused later. (FB in this context including LD.)

Anyway, the walks and GBs have kept his HR rate at a good but not great 5%. His HR/FB also is "just" very good, not great in this era, and that's not likely affected by being pitched around. In terms of overall numbers, Thomas might be the better comp than Bonds right now. But once we bring age into it, we have no good modern comps -- not sure we have anybody other than Sheffield and Harper to even compare him to. Sheffield was not very good at these ages (possibly in part because he was trying to play his way out of Milw) and Harper Ks too much (relative to Soto) although both have had great age-22 seasons.
   4. villageidiom Posted: October 01, 2021 at 11:15 PM (#6042943)
I've edited down the quote at the top because the extended version was messing up the Newsstand page format. Carry on.
   5. kcgard2 Posted: October 02, 2021 at 08:15 AM (#6042955)
Votto had a .535 OBP in the second half of 2015 as well.
   6. TomH Posted: October 02, 2021 at 01:42 PM (#6042993)
In 1941, Ted Williams' OBP after the ASB was .583. Oh, and he slugged .790 He waled 92 times, and struck out 18.
   7. TomH Posted: October 02, 2021 at 02:04 PM (#6042996)
In 1941, Ted Williams' OBP after the ASB was .583. Oh, and he slugged .790. He walked 92 times, and struck out 18.
(not sure why I cannot delete or edit #6 above...)
   8. Jose Canusee Posted: October 02, 2021 at 07:50 PM (#6043082)
I thought it was a list of who had OBP of over .500 in the 2nd half rather than over .535, because I would have guessed George Brett did in 1990 when he hit .390. Seeing that he was under .300 for most of the first part of the year he was way over .400 batting in the second half and would have had to walk a lot to reach .500, looks like he had .064 non-hitting OBP for the year.
   9. Sweatpants Posted: October 02, 2021 at 09:35 PM (#6043136)
For high-walk, low-strikeout, great hitters who didn't have high FB rates, Brian Giles fits the parameters but started too late to have a truly great career.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: October 02, 2021 at 11:41 PM (#6043168)
For high-walk, low-strikeout, great hitters who didn't have high FB rates

Alas Giles had a 0.60 career G/F ratio, including his younger years, so he doesn't fit either.

G/F of 1 or higher and power probably isn't unheard of -- Clemente certainly had a high GO/AO -- but finding a guy like that who also walks a lot is stumping me. If we adjust power for era, Yaz might have done it -- his GO/AO is 1.16 ... but Soto's is 1.54 so Yaz might not be that GB-heavy.

Wow, prime Joe Morgan made only half his outs on the ground. That's the same as McGwire in his prime. Clearly Joe should have been hitting the ball on the ground more to take advantage of his speed in those yearrs. :-)
   11. Sweatpants Posted: October 03, 2021 at 12:15 AM (#6043173)
I opened up Giles' page and everything to post that. Not sure how I misread it so badly.

Okay, now I see - I was looking at "advanced batting" (which I guess doesn't include liners in its ratio?), which had him at 1.19 career, rather than "ratio batting."

Ryan Braun had some GB/FB ratios around 1.0, more in his weaker years, though, and I didn't realize how infrequently he walked.
   12. BDC Posted: October 03, 2021 at 08:22 AM (#6043197)
G/F of 1 or higher and power probably isn't unheard of -- Clemente certainly had a high GO/AO -- but finding a guy like that who also walks a lot is stumping me

I thought of Ferris Fain. GO/AO of 1.14, SO/W of 0.29, averaged well over 100 walks a year. Now, one might not consider Ferris Fain a great hitter, but when he was briefly winning batting titles he was very good, at least. Also a very long time ago and a different style of play, some guys walked a lot in those years.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: October 03, 2021 at 07:56 PM (#6043392)
#11 ... yeah I wondered if you'd gotten suckered in by that. :-) I've pointed out to b-r that they are defining G/F differently on the two pages and that the one in the "advanced batting" table uses a non-traditional measure. It's a shame we have to dig a page deeper to get the "correct" number.

Holy crap -- they just fixed it. As in like between when we posted and now when I just checked. I pointed it out to them months ago and have commented on it a few times here with nothing happening ... you mention it once and get results! I'm well jel. :-)

So Giles' G/F now correctly shows as 0.60 in "advanced batting."
   14. Walt Davis Posted: October 03, 2021 at 08:02 PM (#6043394)
BDC ... but Fain had no power. I'm looking for high(-ish) average, walks and power from a GB-heavy hitter. For BA, walks and GBs we don't have to go farther than some Wade Boggs seasons. Soto is (kinda) Boggs with 500-HR power.
   15. Mefisto Posted: October 03, 2021 at 08:06 PM (#6043397)
Deleted
   16. BDC Posted: October 03, 2021 at 08:31 PM (#6043406)
Sorry, Walt, my reading comprehension is declining by the day :-D

How about Bob Elliott, then, among Fain's contemporaries? 1.14 GO/AO on his career, decent power, always walked more than he struck out and sometimes a lot more.

Though the totals are misleading. Early on in Pittsburgh, Elliott hit a lot of ground balls and not many home runs. Later with Boston he hit 20 HR a year, walked a lot as always, but had consistently more AO than GO. He had two half-careers with different styles of hitting.

Roy Cullenbine, another walking man of that era, was similar. When he finally started to hit some HRs late in his career, he also started to record more GO than AO.
   17. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 03, 2021 at 08:54 PM (#6043411)
Soto 2nd half: 86 BB to 38 K.
   18. Sweatpants Posted: October 03, 2021 at 09:35 PM (#6043420)
Holy crap -- they just fixed it. As in like between when we posted and now when I just checked. I pointed it out to them months ago and have commented on it a few times here with nothing happening ... you mention it once and get results! I'm well jel. :-)
But still no progress on my multiple requests to have Jeter's WAR dropped into the low 40s.

He wasn't a huge power hitter or a huge walker, but Bernie Williams averaged 75 unintentional walks and 22 homers per 162 games with a .94 GB/FB ratio. Even in some of his better seasons he was hitting more grounders than fly balls.
   19. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 03, 2021 at 11:33 PM (#6043446)
It's a weak field, but who else? Soto is #1 in National League WAR. #2 is Tatis, who won't win for obvious reasons. #3 is Trea Turner, who won't win either - the Dodgers were good before and after acquiring him. Then it's a cast of thousands.
   20. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 03, 2021 at 11:45 PM (#6043447)
Wheeler has more WAR than any position player in the NL according to Fangraphs and BB-Ref. He probably has no chance at winning the award, but he should be in the conversation. And Corbin Burnes actually leads in fWAR because his FIP is so good, but no way is a starter with only 163 IP winning the MVP. He’s pretty far behind in bWAR, too. I would argue his value is somewhere in the middle, but closer to the bWAR number.
   21. Hank Gillette Posted: October 04, 2021 at 06:24 AM (#6043457)
An unusual thing about Soto relative to his recent historically great slugger comps is that he's a pretty heavy GB hitter. His career G/F ratio is 1 and he's been comfortably above that the last two years.


Possibly for that reason, he led the National League this season in GIDPs with 23.
   22. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: October 04, 2021 at 08:34 AM (#6043464)
It's a weak field, but who else? Soto is #1 in National League WAR. #2 is Tatis, who won't win for obvious reasons. #3 is Trea Turner, who won't win either - the Dodgers were good before and after acquiring him. Then it's a cast of thousands.


This is one of those years where the Fangraphs WAR shows a different race. Turner, Harper, Soto, and Tatis are tightly grouped #1-4 in that order, and then there's a step down to Bryan Reynolds.

I'd vote for Soto but Harper also had an incredible second half (1188 OPS) and was just about the only Phillie to hit down the stretch. The biggest difference between bWAR and fWAR is that bWAR doesn't like Harper's defense, while fWAR gives it a slightly positive rating. If Harper had somehow carried the Phillies into the postseason, I might give him the nod. But they ultimately came up well short.
   23. TomH Posted: October 04, 2021 at 08:58 AM (#6043470)
Zack Wheeler
leader in IP, KO, CG, ShO... and bb-ref WAR over the position players above
nice 2.78 ERA
   24. Rally Posted: October 04, 2021 at 09:44 AM (#6043479)
No real close pennant races in the NL to give extra credit to. Giants won yesterday and that win lets them avoid game 163 against the Dodgers, and potentially getting eliminated by the Cards if they lost it.

The guy who did the most to win that game was Logan Webb. He went 7 innings, allowed 4 runs which is not great. But he had 2 hits, one a homer, and scored 3 times. So give him the MVP for clutch performance in the pennant race. Or not, and just give it to Soto for what he did over the season.
   25. Mefisto Posted: October 04, 2021 at 10:00 AM (#6043482)
Webb gave up 4 runs only because of the weird decision to bring him out for the 8th. Had they gone to the bullpen he would have given up just 1.
   26. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 04, 2021 at 11:14 AM (#6043497)
I’m not a strong advocate for Wheeler (or Burnes, Woodruff, or Buehler) but it’s weird to me that people here completely leave pitchers out of the discussion. I guess the issue is that similar to the hitters, there’s not necessarily a consensus choice amongst pitchers, either.

It really is wide open this year, and could give us a dark horse candidate like when Ivan Rodriguez won.
   27. stanmvp48 Posted: October 04, 2021 at 11:24 AM (#6043498)
Harper 32 more total bases while Soto has 45 more walks which seems about =. Harper has a 45 point edge in OPS. Same defensive position

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