Juan Soto’s plate discipline reminds Nationals GM Mike Rizzo of Barry Bonds

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Rizzo compares Juan Soto's plate discipline to Barry Bonds originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Juan Soto is widely regarded as one of the best hitters in baseball, if not the best in the game overall. He has a clean, compact swing that stays level through the zone and has a knack for barreling any pitch that catches the plate. 

However, there's one area that doesn't get as much attention, yet it's the most consistent aspect of Soto's game. This guy is always on base. As the 2021 season winds down, Soto leads the league in on-base percentage (.462) and total walks (128). This would be his second-straight season leading the league in that category, while he's never had an on-base percentage below .400. 

His power numbers may fluctuate based on the pitches he's seeing and the protection he has in the lineup, but no matter the situation, Soto is getting himself on base at a high clip. It's a quality Nationals general manager has seen in a player before, and that player just so happens to hold the all-time record in home runs.

"Juan's going to take his walks, a lot like Barry Bonds used to do it back in the day where if they don't want to pitch to him, he's not going to go outside the zone and get himself out," Rizzo told the Sports Junkies Wednesday. "That to me is what makes him the most dangerous hitter in the league is that he will take his walks where you give it to him, and when you do come into the zone, he hits the ball extremely hard. That's a lethal combination offensively."

Barry Bonds is probably the most feared hitter in baseball history. Along with the 762 home runs, Bonds walked (2,558) more than anyone and drew more intentional walks (688) than any player ever. If pitchers threw him a strike, there was a good chance that ball was leaving the yard, so they simply stopped pitching to him. 

Soto isn't at Bonds' level yet, but he certainly appears to be on a better track than Bonds in terms of getting on base. Soto's .462 OBP is a number Bonds only crossed in his late 30s, and Soto is already there at 22 years old. 

The power numbers still have a ways to go, though. Soto has great power, but few would categorize him strictly as a home run hitter. If he can find more ways to put the ball over the fence and get on base at Bonds levels, the Nats could have a generational talent on their hands. 

"He's having a really, really good career," Rizzo said. "Since day one, he's hit the ground running as a 19-year-old hitting in the middle of the lineup of a championship-caliber team."