Liz Barr: Soto working his way into Rookie of the Year conversation

Juan Soto has taken the Nationals by storm. We all know this. The Childish Bambino has provided the Nationals with a spark, and at times he's the only thing keeping this streaky train running. But he hasn't just taken the Nationals by storm, he's taken the entire league by storm, in a way no teenager has in a long time.

There isn't an elite crop of rookies in the National League this season. There isn't a unanimous favorite like Cody Bellinger. So I say that it's within reason that Juan Soto could win National League Rookie of the Year this season.

Among National League rookies, Soto is first in batting average (.324), on-base percentage (.434), slugging (.574) and OPS (1.088). The OPS category isn't even close: The next-closest rookie is Pittsburgh's Austin Meadows with a .888 OPS. Soto does, however, have a little bit of a disadvantage in some of the other stats, as he has only played in 33 games, which is the third-least among qualifying rookies. His 35 hits rank 10th, his 22 runs scored rank seventh, his six home runs rank tied for fifth, his 16 RBIs rank eighth, his nin3 doubles rank tied for fifth and his 21 walks rank tied for fourth. Not quite as impressive, but he simply just does not have the games that some of the other rookies do (most of them have somewhere between 55-75 games).

Let's look at a different metric: hits per game. Of all qualified NL rookies, only four average more than a hit per game: Brian Anderson of Miami (1.15, 80 games), the aforementioned Meadows (1.09, 33 games), Ronald Acuña Jr. (1.07, 29 games and on the disabled list) and Soto (1.06, 33 games). Maybe this doesn't raise Soto above the rest, but it means he's being incredibly productive for his team in a short amount of time. And perhaps more impressive is his walk rate. He's walked 21 times in 33 games - a rate of 0.64, which is far better than any other NL rookie.

Maybe he doesn't have the quantity of numbers right now, but that average and OPS leads me to believe that he will quickly catch up to his rookie competitors. He's already had such a huge impact on his team. According to ESPN, he has a 0.8 WAR, which is fourth among NL rookie batters (Anderson leads with 2.2), and fifth among Nationals batters (Trea Turner, 2.8; Michael A. Taylor, 1.7; Anthony Rendon, 1.4; and Matt Adams, 1.1).

Who knows if the numbers would be different on a different website, but the point is, Soto has made a splash among the Nationals hitters and among NL hitters, and if he keeps up on this pace, he will rise above them real soon. Of course, it should be noted that I did not take pitchers into consideration in this blog, even though there are some very good, noteworthy rookie pitchers out there, such as Dodgers starter Walker Buehler.

No one expected Soto to make it to the majors this year. He wasn't even on anyone's radar. He started the season at Single-A Potomac, and he skipped Triple-A entirely. He was a complete surprise, and I think it's safe to say he's not going anywhere anytime soon. He belongs on a major league roster. And only time will tell, but if he keeps up his production at this pace, Soto just may have a chance to bring home the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Liz Barr blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog. Follow her on Twitter: @RaiseTheBarr1. Her opinions on the Nationals will appear here as part of's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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