It may be a year and a half since Gerrit Cole and the Houston Astros faced the Nationals in the 2019 World Series, but the now-New York Yankees starter hasn’t forgotten the damage Juan Soto did against him.
Speaking with reporters during MLB All-Star festivities in Denver on Monday, Cole was asked who stands as the best hitter he’s ever faced. He thought about it for a few seconds before naming Mike Trout, the three-time AL MVP whose name would probably come out of the mouths of most pitchers when asked that question.
However, Cole did add that he doesn’t consider Soto to be too far behind.
“The best hitter I’ve ever faced is probably Mike Trout,” Cole said. “Especially considering the track record and playing within the prime, but that’s not to say that Albert Pujols isn’t right there with him. That’s not to say that Miguel Cabrera isn’t right there with him. Just right now, it’s a little different than it was maybe 10 years ago. So I gotta go with Mike Trout and close second would be Juan Soto.”
Soto put on a memorable performance in Game 1 of that World Series at the expense of Cole, hitting a mammoth home run off him in the fourth inning and doubling off the wall against him in the fifth to drive in a pair of runs. He homered off him again in Game 5 as well.
They haven’t faced each other since, but Soto’s at-bats evidently left a lasting impression on the right-hander.