Last year, Juan Soto drew the attention of MLB fans for a number of reasons. The ex-Nationals outfielder turned down a massive extension offer from Washington, a move that eventually led to his exit from D.C. On top of that, Soto had his worst season to date in 2022. Entering 2023, fantasy baseball players will need to have that year in the back of their mind.
A Look at Soto
The 2021 season was a dominant one for former National Juan Soto, who posted a gaudy .313/.465/.534 slash line with 29 home runs and 95 RBIs. Soto finished that campaign with the third-best batting average, third-best OPS, and the best OBP in all of baseball. Last season, however, was a different story.
The 24-year-old still displayed excellent plate discipline — Soto walked a league-leading 135 times last season, compared to 96 strikeouts. And, Soto did finish in the top ten in OBP yet again in 2022. The three-time Silver Slugger winner did chase pitches at about a five percent clip more (17.2%) than in 2021, but still posted a Chase% rate that was significantly lower than the MLB average. Soto’s Swing% and Whiff% rates both remained relatively unchanged from 2021.
However, Soto’s slash line dipped significantly. The 24-year-old hit .242./.401/.452 with 27 home runs, 62 RBIs, and 93 runs scored. After the trade that sent him and Josh Bell to San Diego, Soto managed to hit .236 with six bombs during the final two months of the season. That .236 average sat in the bottom 50 of the league after the Trade deadline (min. 175 PA).
Soto didn’t strike out all that much last season, so that can’t be looked upon as the culprit. However, Soto’s FB% rate jumped seven percent from 2021, and his Pop Up% and Under% both jumped to career lows.
2023 Fantasy Outlook
Despite a down 2022 campaign, it’s hard to feel bad about Soto’s chances for 2023. The two-time All-Star is still one of the game’s elite hitters, one that can excel hitting for both average and power. Sure, the numbers from 2022 are concerning. However, a fresh slate in San Diego could do the young superstar wonders.
Surrounded by an impressive group of hitters that includes Fernando Tatis Jr. and offseason acquisition Xander Bogaerts, Soto should be in a position to succeed in San Diego. If Soto falls down in drafts, don’t be afraid to snatch him up.