Over six episodes, MLB Network unveiled its Top 100 Right Now list. Members of the Washington Nationals were no strangers to starring on the list, including Stephen Strasburg at number 60, Max Scherzer at number 28, and Trea Turner at 26, but it’s Juan Soto grabbing the headlines. The 22-year-old came in at No. 5 on the list, with only Freddie Freeman, Jacob deGrom, Mookie Betts, and Mike Trout placed higher.
First thing’s first, you probably noticed that three of those five Top-5 players are housed in the National League East, which is equal parts impressive and daunting. As has been noted, the NL East is likely going to be the best division in baseball, even if it isn’t home to the best team in baseball (looking at you, Dodgers).
But Soto’s ascension continues as we move into the 2021 season.
Across the nation, Fernando Tatís, Jr. just signed a massive $340 million contract payable over 14 years, which suggests Soto is very likely to be greeted with a colossal contract of his own, coming sooner rather than later, in all likelihood.
Both 22, Tatís ranks in the spot behind Soto. Of course, MLB Network’s list might not be the definitive ranking of current players, but it certainly gives us a good jumping off point. Given their age and abilities, Tatís and Soto are probably two of the most comparable players in the game right now. As many of the current greats begin to age and ultimately retire, it’s Tatís and Soto who’ll be the two ascendants to the top of the league once the likes of Trout, Betts, Freeman, and others begin to close the door on their respective careers.
The NL East should provide us with ample entertainment over the coming months. If we’re lucky, maybe it’ll culminate in an October matchup featuring Soto’s Nationals and Tatís’ Padres.