Through just four seasons in MLB, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto has garnered plenty of comparisons to stars of today and legends of the past. For Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, he sees a bit of Hall of Fame right fielder Tony Gwynn in Soto.
“Juan is a unique player,” Strasburg said during Nationals spring training. “I don’t think there are guys that come around that have the skill set like Juan, especially from the offensive side. His ability to recognize balls and strikes, tracking pitches — that’s something you could really admire as a fan of the game.
“It brings back a lot of similarities to me as a kid watching Tony Gwynn, except that Juan has a little more power. Juan is so comfortable in the box. He seems to know what every pitch is doing.”
As Strasburg touched on, Soto does have a “little more power” than what Gwynn bolstered during his playing days. Gwynn was not known for being a power hitter who could be a threat to rack up home runs, as he recorded 135 home runs in his storied career in San Diego. On the other hand, Soto already sits at 98 home runs through four seasons played.
It sure is not a stretch to compare Soto to one of baseball’s most revered contact hitters ever, especially considering his Gwynn-like patient approach at the plate.
Soto heads into the 2022 campaign on the heels of back-to-back top-five finishes in the National League MVP Award voting. He is slated to be among the contenders for the 2022 NL MVP Award.