2023 critical season for Fernando Tatis Jr. and San Diego Padres

There is no question about Fernando Tatis Jr.’s talent. The San Diego Padres made a lengthy commitment to him to ensure that he remains in town as a centerpiece for the franchise, the key to their core moving forward.

There are plenty of other questions about Tatis. His maturity has come into question numerous times over the past couple of years. Between his argument with Manny Machado in the dugout, motorcycle accidents in the offseason that necessitated wrist surgery, and PED suspension that will keep him sidelined into 2023, it is fair to wonder if Tatis is ready to be that franchise cornerstone.

San Diego Padres success making 2023 critical for Fernando Tatis Jr.

Then there is the other side of the coin. The Padres have had their struggles this season, but are a much more cohesive team than they were last year. Not only did they make their way into the postseason, but they have advanced to the NLCS. Ha-Seong Kim has stepped in at short admirably, being nominated for a Gold Glove while posting 4.9 bWAR this season. Is this a reflection on Bob Melvin being brought in as the Padres new manager, Tatis being away from the team, or both?

Tatis is a game changing talent. That was evident in 2021 when he posted a .282/.364/.611 batting line in his 546 plate appearances, hitting a National League leading 42 homers with 31 doubles and 25 steals. He was an All Star and won his second Silver Slugger award as he finished third in the NL MVP vote.

But there is a question of whether or not Tatis can take the Padres to another level. He should be able to, considering his talent and ability on the diamond. However, if he is a problem in the clubhouse and disruptive of the chemistry on the team, it is fair to wonder how much the Padres should tolerate in the name of his skill.

This makes the 2023 season all the more important. The Padres are not only going to want Tatis to prove that he can be the same talent he was before his broken wrist and PED suspension. At the same time, they are going to want to see growth and maturity from him as a person. If he is up to his same antics and the Padres’ record suffers, then it may be clear where the problem is.

The San Diego Padres took a step forward this year without Fernando Tatis Jr. He will need to prove that he can be a part of their future and success.