Juan Soto named a finalist for 2021 National League MVP award

Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was named one of three finalists for the 2021 National League Most Valuable Player award, announced Monday on MLB Network. It is Soto’s second time being named a finalist for a Baseball Writers’ Association of America award, as he finished second in the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year award voting. The winners of the Most Valuable Player awards will be announced live on MLB Network on Thursday, November 18.

Other finalists include Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

Soto, 23, led all of Major League Baseball in on-base percentage (.465) and walks (145) in his fourth professional season. He ranked second among National League hitters in OPS (.999), batting average (.313) and runs scored (111). He was the only qualified player in Major League Baseball with more walks than strikeouts (93), leading the league with a 1.56 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Soto’s .465 on-base percentage was the highest in a season since 2008 (HOF Chipper Jones, .470), while his 145 walks were the most in a season since Barry Bonds set the Major League record with 232 in 2004 and the second-most by any player prior to his 23rd birthday behind Hall of Famer Ted Williams (147 in 1941).

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Soto led National League position players in wins above replacement (7.0) and according to FanGraphs.com, he ranked among the National League’s top three in wOBA (2nd, .420), xwOBA (2nd, .426), wRC+ (2nd, 163), and wins above replacement (3rd, 6.6).

Soto was named a National League All-Star and participated in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby in 2021. He vaulted himself into Most Valuable Player consideration thanks to a strong second half coming out of the All-Star break, hitting .348/.525/.639 with 11 doubles, one triple, 18 homers, 53 RBI, 87 walks and 57 runs scored. His .525 on-base percentage ranked eighth in Major League history for any player after the All-Star break.

In addition to his .313/.465/.534 slash line, Soto recorded 20 doubles, two triples, 29 home runs, 95 RBI, 145 walks, nine stolen bases and 111 runs scored in 151 games. He reached base safely at least four times in 26 games. Only Barry Bonds (2001, 2002, 2004), Hall of Famer Babe Ruth (1920, 1923, 1931) and Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig (1931) put together seasons with at least 26 games in which they reached base safely at least four times.