The 2020 Major League season has not started, and there are already prognostications as to who the player of the decade will be. The answer is Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto.
The 2019 postseason was a coming out party for Juan Soto. The Washington Nationals outfielder had already demonstrated his ability during the regular season, but he took his game to another level with the team needed it most. Showing maturity beyond his age, he saved his best for the World Series, as he produced a .333/.438/.741 batting line, hitting three homers and two doubles.
That performance underscored what the Nationals had gotten from Soto over the previous two seasons. Called up to the majors at just 19 years old, and having just eight games of experience above high-A, Soto quickly showed he belonged. He was the runner up in the NL Rookie of the Year vote in 2018, and finished ninth in the NL MVP voting last year.
Over his two seasons, Soto has produced an excellent .287/.403/.535 batting line, hitting 56 homers and 57 doubles. Although he is not known for his speed, Soto has stolen 17 bases in 20 attempts. His eye at the plate has proven advanced beyond his years, as he has drawn 187 walks with just 231 strikeouts in 1153 plate appearances.
It is a matter of time before the accolades begin to roll in for Soto. He is on the cusp of being a perennial All Star, and may already be a constant presence in the MVP vote. It would not be a surprise to see Soto win an MVP in the coming years, or to dominate the left field spot in the All Star balloting.
And yet, that may not be all for Soto. He is clearly on the verge of stardom, the Nationals next face of the franchise, the player who can be what Bryce Harper was supposed to be. Soto, with his swagger, confidence, and incredible ability, may already be a leader, despite turning 21 years old during the World Series.
It is also likely that there is far more to come. Soto will not be entering his hypothetical prime until 2026, and will be just 30 years old when the decade comes to a close. If he continues to progress as he had, the second half of the decade could be a matter of furthering a possible Hall of Fame resume. At the very least, those years could just further his ascension as the best player of the decade.
There has been a great deal of debate as to who the best MLB player will be in the coming decade. Given his youth and already impressive resume, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto appears to be a safe bet.