No one in the league is as good as he is at discerning balls and strikes.
That is a crucial skill in today’s game: taking balls, defending the strike zone by fouling tough pitches on the edges, and taking advantage of the truly hittable ones is a recipe for success, and Soto applies it to perfection.
If Soto doesn’t get anything to hit, he will just take a walk, and that’s one of the best things a hitter can do: it’s not worth chasing a poor pitch just for the sake of making contact, because that contact will probably be sub-optimal.
Pitchers Are Afraid Of Soto
And, by playing most of the last two seasons on the lowly Nationals, pitchers were afraid to give him too many pitches to hit, even if he encountered some runners on base.
They preferred others to beat them, but not Soto.
As a result, the talented slugger worked a lot of walks with men in scoring position, more than anyone else in the league.
“Most times walked since the start of last year when coming up with a runner (or two) in scoring position and first base open: Juan Soto, 55; Shohei Ohtani, 50; Freddie Freeman, 46; Pete Alonso, 39; Manny Machado, 39; Matt Olson, 39; Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 36; Max Muncy, 34,” Codify Baseball tweeted.
Most times walked since the start of last year when coming up with a runner (or two) in scoring position and first base open:
Juan Soto, 55
Shohei Ohtani, 50
Freddie Freeman, 46
Pete Alonso, 39
Manny Machado, 39
Matt Olson, 39
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 36
Max Muncy, 34
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) August 31, 2022
As long as first base is open, Soto is a good bet to work a walk because pitchers are extremely reluctant to give him anything good to hit.
They prefer to give him first base and then solve the next hitter.
That’s the mark of good, fearsome batters: they can beat a team with patience and with their bat.
Soto is one of the few players in MLB who can said he can inflict consistent damage either with a swing or without one.