Two of the top MLB players in the game today, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto, face-off often, and the “who is better” question comes up often.
Atlanta Braves OF Ronald Acuna Jr. and Washington Nationals OF Juan Soto at the ages of 22 and 21 aren’t just two of the best young MLB players, but they’re two of the very best players in all of baseball. At such young ages, they are already both household names.
When choosing between two players this good it’s hard to go wrong either way, but we’re going to try and dig into the numbers to see who’s better right now.
Ronald Acuna Jr. / Juan Soto 2019 Stats:
- 5.6 fWAR / 4.8 fWAR
- AVG: .280 / .282
- OPS: .883 / .949
- wOBA: .369 / .394
- ISO: .238 / .266
- BB/K: 0.40 / 0.82
- HR: 41 / 34
- RBI: 101 / 110
- DRS: 11 / 0
- ARM: 6.4 / -3.2
- UZR/150: 2.9 / -1.3
- SB: 37 / 12
- BsR: 8.1 / -0.5
First off looking at the offensive stats we can see that Soto is clearly the better all-around hitter right now. They hit for around the same average and they both have incredible power, but Soto is just much more disciplined at the plate right now. This shows in the large OPS, wOBA, and BB/K differences between the two hitters.
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Acuna is certainly an elite hitter, but Soto still has the edge at the plate right now as he is currently among the very best hitters in the MLB.
Looking at defense and base running is where the “who’s the better PLAYER” question gets answered. Ronald Acuna Jr. is one of the best defensive outfielders in the MLB right now. His 11 defensive runs saved ranked 10th among all OF and his 6.4 outfield arm runs ranked 2nd among all OF in 2019.
Juan Soto on the other hand is at best average to slightly above average defensively. 0 DRS isn’t negative but isn’t helping the team and his arm and range were below average.
Looking at base running is just about the same for these two as looking at defense. Ronald Acuna Jr. is once again one of the very best in the league while Soto is around average.
Acuna’s 37 SB ranked 3rd in the MLB and his 8.1 BsR ranked 4th in the entire MLB. Soto’s 12 SB was actually pretty impressive, but as an all-around base runner he wasn’t great as his negative BsR showed. BsR shows much more than stolen bases as it takes into account taking extra bases and running into outs.
To answer the question of who is better after now analyzing the stats I think Ronald Acuna Jr. is definitely the better player at the moment.
There’s a reason that Acuna was worth almost a whole win more than Soto in 2019 even while being a worse hitter. The gap between the two in the outfield and on the base paths is incredibly large and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
I do think that being a great hitter is much more important than being great in the other areas, but the question was “who is the better player” not “who is the better hitter.” And Acuna is great at every facet of the game.
While Soto is one of the very best hitters in all of baseball, Acuna is still great and not far from the very best. Acuna is one of the very best defensive outfielders and base runners in all of baseball, yet Soto is around average in those areas and not close to being great.
With both MLB players being so young and both having more potential to tap into, they both will continue to improve in certain areas and this debate will continue for years to come and the answer could change with time. For now, though, Ronald Acuna Jr.’s all-around five-tool elite talent gives him the edge over Juan Soto.