The Padre’s Phenom
Since June 2016, Fernando Tatis Jr. has transitioned from a diamond in the rough to the crown jewel of the Padres top rated farm system. Since opening day he has been the most valuable position player on the team. In a mere 27 games Tatis Jr. has amassed 1.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Right now our rookie shortstop is on pace for about 6 WAR if he played every game. For reference, last year’s NL RoY was the Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. who was a 3.7 WAR player in 111 games.
Tatis Jr. Now and Then
Triple Slash Line
2019 MLB .300/.360/.550 wRC+139
2018 AA .286/.355/.507 wRC+133
2017 High A .281/.390/.520 wRC+154
This year in albeit a small sample Fernando has been 39% better than league average at a premium defensive position. It has been a revelation for a Padres team that has not had a true shortstop since Evereth Cabrera put up 2.9 WAR in 2013 and many would argue the last truly good shortstop was Khalil Greene’s 2.8 WAR all the way back in 2007. While is seems unlikely Tatis can keep up his current torrid pace, he easily can exceed both Cabrera and Greene’s value even with some regression.
2019 MLB 7.2 BB%/28.8 K%/.381 BABIP
2018 AA 8.4 BB%/ 27.7 K%/ .370 BABIP
2017 High A 14.5 BB%/ 23.9%/ .351 BABIP
Each year as Tatis has moved up to another level his K% rises and BB% falls. This is pretty typical for prospects as they make their way to the majors. The real question is whether Tatis can make the development jump to raise his BB% and lower his K%. If he can Tatis will be in perennial MVP competition. Right now he has an inflated BABIP that is due for regression. Fernando may have a higher floor on his BABIP with his elite speed but .381 is not sustainable.
Baserunning BsR 0.6
Sprint Speed 29.0 ft/second
Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)/150 -0.8
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) 4
Tatis Jr. has proven that he is a five-tool player. Knocks on him during his years in the minors were mostly that he was not a good runner and that his defense would push him off SS to 3B. As a young player he is doing well running the bases smartly while exhibiting elite speed. As a reference, Terrance Gore has the top sprint speed of 30.4 ft/sec this season. On defense Tatis has shown excellent range a top shelf arm strength. Although fielding metrics are prone to some ambiguity compared to offensive sabermetric data, Fernando has exhibited himself a strong defender overall. UZR has Fernando as just a tick under average while DRS has him tied for fifth in the majors at SS.
On April 28th Tatis was injured on a play in extra innings trying to make a force play at the bad at second. The extent of his hamstring injury is still unknown but does not seem to indicate a lengthy IL stint. Although this is a huge blow to the team for the next couple series the long-term outlook for the Padres is exceedingly positive. Fernando Tatis Fernando Tatis Jr. is the shortstop we have all been hoping he would be. He is likely to see a little regression in his stat line but I fully expect to see him continue to adjust to major league pitching. It is not hard to see Tatis Jr. and Machado making the best left side of the infield in all the majors for the next 6+ seasons.
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