Frank Ammirante | July 5th, 2019
Coming into the 2019 season, there was a ton of hype surrounding a certain third-baseman, who was the twenty-year-old son of a Hall-of-Famer, playing for the Toronto Blue Jays. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was expected to come up and immediately tear the cover off the baseball. But the adjustment period has been slower than expected, as Vlad Jr. has taken some time to get used to major league pitching, slashing .248 AVG/.328 OBP/.416 SLG with 8 HR in 241 plate appearances. There was also hype around another twenty-year-old son of a former MLB player, but he was not expected to immediately produce, and there was talk that we might not even see him this season. Instead, Fernando Tatis Jr. has exceeded expectations with the look of a future superstar.
Tatis Jr. is slashing .326/.394/.611 with 12 HR and 29 RBI in 218 plate appearances. While he is striking out often (29.4 K%), he’s also done a good job drawing walks (9.2 BB%). Tatis Jr. has a .418 wOBA (5th in MLB), 160 wRC+ (5th in MLB), and .285 ISO (14th in MLB). These are impressive numbers that place him among elite company such as Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, and Mike Trout. Remember, he’s doing this at twenty years old. Tatis Jr. has stolen 13 bases in 16 tries (81%), which is tied for 10th in MLB. His sprint speed is 29.2 feet per second (MLB average is 27 ft/s), ranking 26th, ahead of Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Trevor Story. Tatis Jr. has showcased this elite speed through plays such as when he tagged from third on an infield fly. His throw to first base has been clocked at 93 MPH, showing off one of the elite arms in all of baseball. Overall, he’s been a solid defender at shortstop, which is about all the Padres can ask for given his outstanding offensive production. Tatis Jr. has already been worth 2.8 WAR in only 51 games, good for 23rd in MLB among all hitters, despite missing 15 games.
At the age of 20, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, and Troy Tulowitzki were not even in the Major Leagues yet.
Alex Rodriguez played only 48 games for the Seattle Mariners, slashing .232 AVG/.264 OBP/.408 with only 5 HR.
His teammate, Manny Machado, played 51 games for the Baltimore Orioles, with a .262 AVG/.294 OBP/.445 SLG slash and 7 HR.
Carlos Correa is the closest comparable, slashing .279 AVG/.345 OBP/.512 SLG with 22 HR in 99 games. But even these numbers pale in comparison to what Tatis Jr. is currently doing.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is in the middle of a historic season – we have never seen a young shortstop put up these elite numbers at such a young age. While we should expect some regression due to his strikeout rate, it’s clear that the Padres have a superstar on their hands. Tatis Jr. has the look of a perennial 35+ HR, 25+ SB hitter with the ability to produce a 40-40 season. The sky is the limit for this kid.
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