San Diego Padres: Why Fernando Tatis Jr. is not a top 5 player

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 11: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres looks on from the dugout during the sixth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at PETCO Park on May 11, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 11: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres looks on from the dugout during the sixth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at PETCO Park on May 11, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres might have the boldest player in baseball, but not the greatest. Fernando Tatis Jr. is far from that title, but MLB Network had him ranked at #3 on the top 100 current players list. The list makes him the #1 shortstop in the league.

Currently, “El Niño” has not played a single game in 2022 due to an injured wrist he suffered during the offseason, needing surgery to fix the damage. It is unclear how he acquired his injuries, but the Associated Press reported that Tatis was involved in a motorcycle accident during his time off the field.

But here is the thing … he is not the best shortstop in the league. Not even in the National League. Stats can prove it. Even after having an MVP-caliber season, he could not beat Bryce Harper or Juan Soto out for the honor.

He has been detrimental to the Padres’ rebuilding into a competitive team in the NL West division. Also, Tatis sells a lot of jerseys. That is why San Diego, after the 2020 season, signed him to a 14-year, $340 million contract extension to keep him in San Diego until 2034. In 2021, Tatis had an outstanding season, offensively, despite only appearing in 130 games. He hit 42 home runs, leading the National League, and stole 25 bases. He slashed .282/.364/.611 with a .975 OPS in 546 plate appearances. He finished third in the NL MVP vote.

Arguments to justify the ranking: batting and speed

Fernando Tatis Jr. can hit the heck out of the ball. With an average exit velocity of 93.9 mph and a launch angle of 13.8, no wonder his fly ball can pass any ballpark wall. In 273 games played, Tatis has 81 home runs; he obtained 42 of those last season. Throwing a fastball to Tatis in the zone is a colossal mistake. Last year, he had a .324 batting average against the fastball. He is also slugging .699 with 26 of the 42 home runs on this pitch. In addition, for any pitch in the zone, he will swing 75.3% and make contact 76% of the time.

Tatis can run as well. He is top of the league in speed. Tatis was caught stealing only four times out of 29 attempts.

Here are three arguments that might need to be addressed before concluding that Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres is the best player in the National League

Argument 1: Injury history

Injuries have plagued Tatis since getting into the big leagues. The hyped shortstop was on San Diego’s Opening Day roster in 2019, but the team lost him in August for the remainder of the season due to back issues. He played only 84 games that season and ended third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. He slashed .317/.379/.590 with a .969 OPS, 16 stolen bases, and 22 homers in his first season.

He did play the entire 2020 COVID-19 shortened season. However, things changed in the 2021 season. He had a shoulder injury in April that put him on the 10-day disabled list. Later in July, he suffered an identical injury to his left shoulder and was on the disabled list for the second time. He returned in August and spent the rest of the season mainly in the outfield.

Argument 2: Fielding errors

It is essential to mention that Fernando Tatis Jr.’s primary position is being the Padres’ shortstop. In 2021, Tatis committed 22 fielding errors, 21 of those at short, ranking him #6 on the most errors list. Only one other shortstop was ahead of him (Bo Bichette with 24). Even the horrible shortstop Gleyber Torres had fewer errors, with 18. However, Torres had hard critics for his defensive abilities in the position.

Tatis had an F2O% of 0.87 last year, meaning that every fielded ball had an 87% chance of being an out. Sounds good, right? Well, no. Tatis ranks 91st among all the players who played shortstop last year. Actually, 21 players had an F2O% of 100 percent. On fielding percentage, he is even worse with .940, ranking him at 113. But, again, Torres is on top of him in that list.

How about turned double plays? He has 45, ranking 23rd on that list. The top player in this stat, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, with 98 successful attempts. The Rangers drafted Kiner-Falefa as a catcher.

A player is named by his defensive position, and Tatis is not a pretty good shortstop.

Argument 3: Tatis is not better than Bryce Harper

Harper has two National League MVP trophies for a reason. Last year, his slash line was .309/.429/.615 with a 1.044 OPS in 599 plate appearances. His strikeout percentage was lower than Tatis at 22.4% and a higher walk percentage (16.7%). Not even last season, Tatis’ batting stats were not even better than Harper’s numbers.

Defensively, Harper had a fielding percentage of 1.000 and only one error in the season. He does not play in the same defensive position, but Harper has the edge just offensively. Also, Harper is currently playing with MVP-like stats.

In fact, Tatis Jr. is not better than Soto either. But, this will make this article too long.

dark. Next. 3 questions on the return of Fernando Tatis Jr.

The conclusion is that the MLB Network’s Top 100 Players is a popularity contest. Many players are overrated, including Ohtani at #1. He had a fantastic year, but better than Trout? Well, that’s another article.