After a great first season in the majors in which he provided a much-needed offensive spark, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto arrived in second place in the BBWAA’s votes for 2018 National League Rookie of the Year, behind division rival Atlanta Braves‘ Ronald Acuña Jr.
Acuña Jr. received 27 out of 30 first-place votes – a clear selection – while Soto received two. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler received one first-place vote. Soto also received 26 second-place votes.
Soto, who turned 20 over the course of the 2018 season, played in 116 games and hit .292, with 22 home runs and 70 RBI. He also compiled an OBP of .406 and OPS of .923. He played primarily out of the left field.
Soto’s performance matched Acuña’s in many categories, but the truth is that Acuña’s season helped the Braves win their first NL East division title in five years while the Nats watched the postseason from the comfort of their homes.
However, Soto’s breakout year was a bright spot heading into the next season, when the Nationals could very well find themselves living in a world without the face of their franchise, free agent Bryce Harper.
If Harper signs elsewhere, the Nationals would have to address their outfield by signing a veteran player or promoting from within. This could signal the emergence of yet another sensational rookie, Victor Robles, into the big show.
As we reported earlier this fall, Robles is having a solid performance down in the Dominican Republic, as he gets ready for perhaps his first full season in the majors.
If Harper is not with the Nationals on Opening Day, their outfield could be manned by Soto, Robles and Adam Eaton.
The coming weeks may tell us much more about what the Nats will look like on their first day of spring training.
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