Soto First Team All-MLB for 2nd straight year

November 24th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- First, there was a Silver Slugger Award. Then, there was a second-place finish in National League MVP voting. On Tuesday, right fielder Juan Soto wrapped up his 2021 offseason accolades by being named First Team All-MLB for the second year in a row.

The award, in its third year, recognizes the top players in baseball for their overall performances during the regular season. A First and Second Team consisting of one selection at each position, five starting pitchers and two relievers is determined by voting from fans (50%) and a panel of experts (50%).

Soto was joined by the Phillies’ Bryce Harper and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge in the First Team outfield. Nominees at the position included Cedric Mullins (BAL), Tyler O'Neill (STL), Nick Castellanos (CIN), Teoscar Hernández (TOR), Jesse Winker (CIN), Bryan Reynolds (PIT), Mitch Haniger (SEA), Kris Bryant (SF), Mookie Betts (LAD), Kyle Tucker (HOU), Randy Arozarena (TB), Adam Duvall (ATL), Kyle Schwarber (BOS), Enrique Hernández (BOS) and Adolis García (TEX).

Having slashed .313/.465/.534 with 145 walks, Soto led all of baseball in on-base percentage, walks, chase rate (15.1%) and walk-to-strikeout ratio (1.56) in just his fourth Major League season. He also ranked third among all players in batting average and OPS (.999), and he tied for sixth in runs scored (111).

“Whenever they want to play, I play,” Soto memorably said in August. “When they don’t want to play, I just take my walk.”

Soto earned his first All-Star selection this season, and he participated in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, in which he blasted a record-setting 520-foot dinger in Denver. He carried the momentum from the competition into a surging second half, recording a .348/.525/.639 slash line (1.164 OPS) and 18 homers following the break, making him a daunting opponent at the plate.

“It just doesn't seem to matter much what you do with him,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said in September. “I don't know if I've ever seen a guy kind of continuously hit the ball as hard as this guy does ... as clean as he does. Even his outs in general, if he hits it, it's hit hard. … He's a guy who controls the strike zone, he's physical, [he’s] got a great swing -- all the things you want.”

The scope of Soto’s accomplishments is further emphasized by the fact he did not turn 23 years old until late October. He joined Hall of Famer Ted Williams as just the second player to pace the Majors in on-base percentage twice before their age-23 seasons. Additionally, Soto’s walk total was the most in a full season since Barry Bonds drew 232 in 2004.

Soto has been tied to the All-MLB Team since its inception in 2019. That year, he was named to the Second Team, and he has earned a place on the First Team in each of the seasons that have followed.