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Fernando Tatís Jr. is Amazing

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Earlier this week, Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. was criticized by both his manager, Jayce Tingler, and Rangers manager Chris Woodward, after homering on a 3-0 pitch in the eighth inning when his team had a seven-run lead. Tatís was vigorously defended by baseball fans on social media.

We’re not here to weigh in on the controversy of that moment. We’re here to tell you this – that Tatís is a terrific baseball player.

Entering Thursday, the 21-year-old Tatís leads the majors in Runs Created with 31. He’s also No. 1 in Total Bases (76), Runs (25), and RBI (29), and is tied for the MLB lead in Stolen Bases (6).

This is a follow-up to a rookie season cut short by injury in which Tatís hit .317 with a .969 OPS and 22 home runs in 84 games.

Tatís has 34 career home runs. That’s tied for the fourth-most by a player through the first 110 games of his career dating back to 1901 (the first year the AL and NL co-existed). It’s the same number of home runs hit in that span as current stars Aaron Judge, Pete Alonso, and Ryan Braun. Mark McGwire tops the list with 40 home runs.

The only knock on Tatís entering this season was one aspect of his defense, his throwing.

His 11 Range Runs Saved in 2019 ranked third among shortstops behind Paul DeJong (23) and Marcus Semien (19), both of whom played full seasons compared to Tatís’ half season. But Tatís had the worst Throwing Runs Saved total, costing his team 13 runs. Overall, he finished with -3 Runs Saved.

As we noted in The Fielding Bible—Volume V, watching video of those plays showed that Tatís’ issue was in trying to do too much. He rushed throws before setting his feet or trying to make impossible plays. This doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem in 2020.

Through 25 games this season, Tatís has saved two runs, including one run from his throws. He’s had only one instance of a throwing misplay or error or a throw that required a Good Fielding Play by the first baseman. He had 16 such plays in 2019.

From what we’ve seen so far of Tatís in 2020, he’s built on his strengths and attacked his main weakness. He’s a player with extraordinary skills and extraordinary potential. The more you watch Tatís, the more you’re going to want to keep watching him.

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