San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. could be next member of 40-40 club

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres runs the bases against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fourth inning at Oracle Park on October 02, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres runs the bases against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fourth inning at Oracle Park on October 02, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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In the history of Major League Baseball, only four players have ever stolen 40 bases and hit 40 home runs in the same season. Could Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres join this exclusive club in 2022?

Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres could become a member of the 40-40 club if healthy throughout the 2022 season

Having just turned 23 on January 2, Tatis Jr. has all of the tools necessary to join Jose Canseco (Oakland A’s, 1988), Barry Bonds (San Francisco Giants, 1996), Alex Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners, 1998), and Alfonso Soriano (Washington Nationals, 2006) as the only MLB players to ever post a 40-40 season. Last year, in just 130 games because of a shoulder injury and time on the COVID-19 injured list, Tatis Jr. smacked 42 homers while stealing a career-high 25 bases. Both numbers led the San Diego Padres in 2021 as Tatis Jr. finished third in the voting for National League MVP.

Is it conceivable that a healthy Tatis Jr. could keep up his power from last season while swiping more bases? Under new manager Bob Melvin, it’s likely (based on his past tendencies with his roster while managing the A’s) that the Padres will be aggressive on the base paths, which could open up more opportunities for Tatis Jr.

Tatis Jr. has also increased his walk rate in each of his three seasons, growing it from 8.1 percent in 2019 to 10.5 percent in 2020 and 11.4 percent in 2021. More times on base gives Tatis Jr. more opportunities to swipe the next base, growing that stolen bases total.

Of course, much of his chance to reach the 40-40 club will depend on the health of his shoulder. Tatis Jr. chose to not undergo shoulder surgery this offseason despite the issues he had with it last year. The Padres enter 2022, according to sources, with the belief that the shoulder is as strong as it has ever been for Tatis Jr. and won’t cause any problems.

When healthy, Tatis Jr. has already shown he has the power and speed to make history.

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If he can remain healthy, Tatis Jr. has a shot at baseball immortality this season. It will be anything but easy but, if the MVP candidate can pull it off, it will be a huge boost for a Padres team looking to rebound from last season’s disappointing 79-83 finish.