Nationals

Juan Soto almost became a pitcher instead of the best hitter in MLB

Nationals

Juan Soto is the best young hitter in baseball. In fact, if he had his 2020 stats spread out over a normal 162-game season, we might be calling him the best hitter in baseball, period.

And to think, he might have turned to pitching instead. What a loss it would be to not get to enjoy his bat in the lineup every day.

In a 2018 interview that recently resurfaced on Reddit, Soto explains that because of his slow foot speed, his trainers planned to keep him on the mound.

That, uh, would have been a mistake. To put it mildly.

Soto is slow, to be fair. At least, he is relative to his peers in the big leagues. As seen in his percentile rankings from MLB's Baseball Savant, Soto's sprint speed is in the 33rd percentile - well below average.

Baseball Savant

Of course, one can't help but notice a few other numbers there. Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, Barrel % and K % are all in the 90th percentile or better. You don't have to know what all of those numbers mean to know that being better at them than just about every other Major League hitter is pretty darn good.

Soto led the National League in batting average and Major League Baseball in OBP and SLG. He put forth numbers in the (admittedly shortened) 2020 season that haven't been seen since peak Barry Bonds. There is a very legitimate argument to be made for Soto as the best hitter in baseball, regardless of age, and he's still only 21.

 

Imagine missing out on all we've seen from him, and the exponentially more great things we're going to see from him in the future, just because he doesn't run very fast?

Frankly, at this point we wouldn't put anything past Soto, including figuring out a way to dominate on the mound too. But the Nationals, and baseball fans everywhere, have to be pretty pleased with the way things worked out for the probably future MVP.