We have moved to our new permanent home at HighHeatStats.com!

All existing content will remain, but all new content is posted at our new location.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #6 Mario Soto

Posted by Andy
Before I talk about Mario Soto specifically, I want to talk about the card featured in this post, 1983 Topps #351 Reds Team Leaders.

I could not pass up this Soto card because it includes Cesar Cedeno, himself one of the most underrated players of the last several decades.

Cedeno joined the Reds in 1982 and had a team-best batting average. That's not saying all that much as his team lost 101 games. Cedeno played all of 1983 and 1984 with the Reds, who were again well sub-.500 each season. This is part of the reason why both Cedeno and Soto are underrated, playing for a lousy team that had fallen far from its recent success (see upcoming #5 on this countdown for another good example of this.)

Anyway, on to Mario Soto specifically:
Soto was well-regarded during his playing days. He was an All-Star 3 different times and received Cy Young votes in 4 different seasons. In 1983, one of the worst years ever for Cy Young voting, Soto finished a distant second to John Denny in the NL despite having mostly superior numbers (such as a better WHIP over more innings.)

However, Soto was largely forgotten due to injuries that finished him by Age 31 and because of some on-field incidents including two suspensions during the 1984 season.

So, here's a reminder of some of Soto's achievements in the 1980s:

From 1980 to 1985, Soto was tops in MLB in strikeouts:

1 Mario Soto 1248 216 174 502 3.15 118
2 Steve Carlton 1237 186 186 454 2.94 125
3 Nolan Ryan 1174 185 185 540 3.09 108
4 Fernando Valenzuela 1032 176 166 455 2.89 121
5 Floyd Bannister 992 190 188 433 4.02 105
6 Jack Morris 915 205 205 541 3.61 111
7 Dave Stieb 890 204 202 496 3.07 139
8 Ron Guidry 858 188 175 321 3.58 109
9 Mike Krukow 796 186 184 420 3.85 95
10 Phil Niekro 795 196 192 515 3.61 106
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/10/2012.

Over that same period, he was 5th in innings pitched, 2nd in OPS against (minimum 100 starts), and 1st in WHIP (minimum 100 starts.)

Quite simply, Mario Soto was one of the top handful of pitchers in all of baseball in the first half of the 1980s. By 1986, he was injured and he was never the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment