Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
Losing Harper to a division rival certainly stings, but it’s not as if the Nationals aren’t expected to contend for a postseason spot this year. The presence of Juan Soto is a big reason for this, and Washington would’ve been a lot worse than its 82-80 record last year without him.
What’s crazy is that he spent 116 games in the big leagues in 2018 despite starting the year in Single-A ball. In fact, Soto’s career minor-league plate appearances (512) is barely more than the big-league plate appearances (494) he just accrued.
Every number from Soto’s stellar rookie campaign is impressive, whether it’s the 3.7 fWAR, 146 wRC+, or .923 OPS. However, his 16.0% walk rate is easily the most eye-popping of all. It’s not every day we get to see a then-19-year-old rookie show off that kind of plate discipline. His 21.9% chase rate would’ve ranked 12th in baseball had he qualified for the batting title. He actually finished just a hair beyond some fellow named Mike Trout (21.8%).
There’s still plenty of work ahead for Soto as he prepares for his sophomore season. But still, it’s hard to not be making comparisons with Harper, who was the Nats’ last 19-year-old superstar. If Soto can find a way to keep progressing, Washington may have another big contract decision to make in a few years with, yup, you guessed it — another Scott Boras client (at the moment, at least).