Juan Soto vs Mike Trout

So I know what you're probably thinking: this guy is just a biased Nats fan who has no idea what he's talking about. I would probably think that too. Mike Trout should be the unanimous best player in baseball. I say that because his offensive production has been that of Tatis Jr's hot start to 2020, but for 8 straight years. I know Soto is not on Trout's level yet, but I believe that he can very well get there in the near future.

I will be using both advanced and standard stats to prove that Soto can be a Mike Trout level player or better.

Part One: Teenage Phenoms.

I know Mike Trout wasn't incredible in his first year, but it happened, so I'm going to include it. Both players showed upside in their age 19 season, but Soto showed how good he truly could be. Trout only had 206 Plate Appearances, and they weren't Mike Trout like. He had a slash line of .220/.281/.390, he hit 5 Homers, 16 RBIs, and had a wRC+ of 87. Not great numbers, but he was a much better defender back in his earlier days than he is now. I prefer to use OAA when determining how good a player is at fielding, but that was not around back in 2011, so I will be using UZR and DRS for comparisons. Trout had a positive UZR and DRS in 2011, meaning he was a solid fielder out in center. Juan Soto's age 19 season was a complete 180 from Trout's. Soto's slash line was .292/.406/.517, he hit 22 Homers, 70 RBIs, and had a wRC+ of 145 in 494 Plate Appearances. Those are historic numbers for a 19 year old. What made Soto such a threat at the plate was his eye. A .406 OBP for a 19 year old is off the charts and shows how exceptional his eye at the plate really is. Juan Soto wasn't a great fielder in his first year with pretty significant negatives in his UZR, DRS, and OAA, but he would change that in his age 20 season.

Part 2: 20 Year Old Seasons.

This is the year Mike Trout started to look like the Mike Trout we all know and love. Well, almost. Mike Trout was an elite hitter in 2012, but something he also had going for him was his defense. Mike Trout was an elite defender in 2012. He had a 9.9 UZR and 21 DRS. That is very, very good. Over the years, however, his defense has fallen off. I will get into that more later. Back to the Offense. Mike Trout was, as usual, an elite hitter in 2012. In 639 Plate Appearances, Trout had a slash line of .326/.399/.564, he hit 30 Homers, 83 RBIs, and had a wRC+ of 167. Soto's defense was much improved, going from a -6 OAA to a 6 OAA, becoming a very solid defender. Soto was also a very good hitter. In 659 Plate Appearances, Soto had a slash line of .282/.401/.548, he hit 34 Homers, 110 RBIs, and had a wRC+ of 142. So far, Soto was clearly better in his age 19 season, but Trout was better for his age 20 season, but age 21 is where it starts to get a little bit weird.

Part 3: Soto's 2020.

Juan Soto's 21 year old season is still going on, and has been cut short due to a brief stint with covid-19 and a small elbow issue, but his numbers are staggering. In 149 Plate Appearances, Juan Soto has a slashline of .342/.470/.708, 11 Homers, 31 RBIs, and a wRC+ 197. Even in a short season those numbers are ridiculous. So far, he has lost a bit of his solid defense in 2020 with a -1 OAA so far.

Why Soto is a comparable player to Trout.

In full seasons, Juan Soto's wRC+ hasn't reached 170 which Trout hits almost annually, but Soto is still 21 years old and improving as shown by his elite stats in 2020. I don't think Soto will slow down either like a 23 year old Bryce Harper because of his work ethic. Juan Soto has a legendary work ethic, which was in full display during the 2019 postseason. Soto, like Trout, isn't an elite defender. Actually, Trout and Soto are very similar defensively. With Soto's improving offensively, and him being a similar defender to Trout, it isn't too far fetched to think Soto could be on Trout's level sooner rather than later.

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