WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto arrived to D.C. sooner than nearly anyone could have anticipated, when the Nationals promoted him at age 19 to the Majors after a rash of injuries in May. Soto then put together one of the most impressive seasons by a teenager in MLB history, etching his
WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto arrived to D.C. sooner than nearly anyone could have anticipated, when the Nationals promoted him at age 19 to the Majors after a rash of injuries in May. Soto then put together one of the most impressive seasons by a teenager in MLB history, etching his name into the record books in a number of categories and putting himself in contention for National League Rookie of the Year honors.
On Thursday, Soto celebrated his 20th birthday, which is a good time to look back at where he ranked and what records he set among teenagers in several categories in Major League history.
Tied for second-most home runs by a teenager (22, tied with Bryce Harper)
Soto launched a homer in his first career Major League start, which set the template for the special season he would put together. His power helped earn him the initial callup, as he hammered 14 home runs in 39 games in the Minors, and the power carried over quickly to Major League stadiums, where Soto routinely swatted towering, opposite-field homers over the left-field wall and smiled as he raced around the bases.
Soto passed names like Ken Griffey Jr. and Mel Ott on his way up the record books, finishing at 22 homers on the season, tied with his teammate Harper's mark from 2012 and trailing only Tony Conigliaro, who hit 24 homers in 1964, among teenagers.
Most multihomer games (three) by a teenager in MLB history
Soto's first multihomer game came at Yankee Stadium on June 13, when he hammered two homers, including the go-ahead solo dinger in the seventh, en route to four RBIs in Washington's 5-4 victory. He homered twice and collected five RBIs in the Nats' 17-7 blowout win in Philadelphia on June 29. And again Soto helped power a victory on Sept. 11, when in the second game of a doubleheader he collected another pair of homers, which included the game-winning homer in the 10th.
Most walks (79) by a teenager in MLB history
What coaches and teammates praised the most about Soto was his patience and approach at the plate, especially impressive given his age. That plate discipline and uncanny ability to control the strikezone was one of the biggest drivers of his success. Soto became the youngest player since Griffey Jr. in June 1989 to get intentionally walked and set a record for most multiwalk games (16) by a teenager. He drew 79 walks, 10 of which were intentional free passes; no teenager had ever before drawn more than 60 walks (Will Smalley, 1890) in a single season.
Highest on-base percentage (.406) and OPS (.923) for a teenager
The high walk total should make the record on-base percentage no surprise, and Soto's .923 OPS finished just ahead of Mel Ott's .921 OPS in 1928.
Soto also dominates in a lot of advanced stats. He posted the highest OPS+ (142), wOBA (.392) and wRC+ (145) among teenagers in MLB history, giving him the strong case to be called the best-hitting teenager in MLB history.
First teenager and youngest player to steal three bases in a single game
Soto had only swiped two bases all season before he caught everyone off guard on Sept. 15. Taking advantage of something he picked up in the delivery of Braves right-hander Julio Teheran, Soto became the youngest player with three stolen bases in a single game, breaking Rickey Henderson's record at 20 years and 241 days. It was an unexpected wrinkle in Soto's already impressive game and reminder of how talented of a player he can be.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.