Juan Soto and Bryce Harper may have only played together for one season in Washington, but their legacies will forever be intertwined after Soto inherited Harper’s role as the Nationals’ biggest superstar.
Yet when you compare the numbers for Soto and Harper over their first three seasons, one player stands out much more than the other.
Soto: 313 games, .295/.415/.557, .972 OPS, 69 home runs, 217 RBIs, 328 hits, 228 walks, 259 strikeouts
Harper: 357 games, .272/.351/.465, .816 OPS, 55 home runs, 149 RBIs, 356 hits, 155 walks, 318 strikeouts
It really isn’t even close — nor was it close a year ago. Even with the 2020 season shortened to just 60 games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Soto has outproduced Harper in nearly every offensive statistic. The Team 980’s Al Galdi joined NBC Sports Washington’s Nationals Talk podcast Thursday and talked about the differences between Soto and Harper.
“He is — in so many ways — he is what Bryce Harper was supposed to be,” Galdi said. “Harper was good but I don’t think was ever as great as he was supposed to be. Soto is that great. He’s on that level already and I think what’s also really encouraging is he’s done it now for three years. So this isn’t like, ‘Well, is he really this good?’ No, he’s 3-for-3. Every year, he’s been excellent. There’s no reason to think it’s not going to continue for many years to come.”
Soto’s impressive play has already prompted his hitting coach Kevin Long to predict that he’ll finish his career as “one of the best” players to ever step on the field. His approach at the plate is earning comparisons to Ted Williams, widely regarded as one of the best pure hitters in MLB history.
Of course, Harper’s best season came in his fourth year at the big-league level in 2015. He finished that campaign with a 1.109 OPS and 42 home runs, numbers that Soto has yet to top over the course of a full season (looking at you, 2020). But even so, Soto’s consistency over his first three years has made him a much more reliable hitter to Washington than Harper did.