What Juan Soto Brings to the Texas Rangers
Let’s start with what he does better than anyone. Say it with me, Billy Beane: he gets on base! Juan Soto and walks go together like peanut butter and jelly.
As of the writing of this post (All-Star break), he leads Major League Baseball with 79 walks. Only four of those 79 have been intentional. He has the most walks of any player since his debut in 2018 – almost 50 more than Bryce Harper in second. In this dead ball era, one could argue that simply getting on base is the most effective way to win games through your offense. The Astros, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers all rank among the top six teams in both walks drawn and winning percentage since 2015. It’s not all about hits – just ask the Rockies, who lead the National League in team hits during that span and have next to zero playoff success to show for it.
Yes, there are outliers to primarily drawing walks as your pièce de résistance, but there’s a reason guys like Bregman, Harper, Trout, Votto, and Freeman rank among the leagues best when it comes to plate discipline. Soto clears that group. The Rangers have walked less than 23 of the 29 other clubs in baseball this year, and when your team batting average floats around .240 like Texas’ does, you could so, so badly behoove from placing a guy like him at the top of your lineup.
Soto’s .968 OPS ranks first in the N.L. since his debut and third in the Majors. If you choose not to pitch to him, he’s going to work his way to first base. If you choose to gamble – and you’ll probably lose by putting anything in his zone – he’s going to accumulate even more bases with the power in his bat. His UZR rating in the outfield has improved significantly since switching from left to right field in 2021. He’s racked up a career 21.0 WAR three months before his 24th birthday. He swings at less than 22% of pitches outside of his strike zone, ranking among the leagues’ best.
All of these numbers add up to one phenomenal baseball player. You could make the argument Soto would instantly become the best Texas Ranger (at the time of their tenure, anyway) since Hamilton or Beltre. Wins Above Replacement is not just some stat for nerds to fawn over – it matters to show how much value these players bring to winning. Juan Soto is a winning baseball player, and he will bring that winning formula to the Texas Rangers.