Sports

Fernando Tatís Is Ready To Be The Face of MLB

For years, sports fans in America have criticized MLB’s lack of exposure, reach, and publicity compared to the NBA and the NFL. All three sports are prevalent in the country, yet there is always...

Apr 9

For years, sports fans in America have criticized MLB’s lack of exposure, reach, and publicity compared to the NBA and the NFL. All three sports are prevalent in the country, yet there is always that feeling that MLB lacks a valid player with legendary skills and a marketable persona. The sport lacked someone like what LeBron James represents to the NBA. But fear no more.

Ever since he was a prospect, talent evaluators rated Fernando Tatís Jr. highly. The San Diego Padres knew all along that they had a unique player in him, a true five-tool hitter capable of hitting for average and power while boasting blazing speed, excellent defense, and a great arm at shortstop. Thankfully, the performance and numbers were there for him as he tested his skills against major league pitching.

In his first exposure, in 2019, Tatís hit .317/.379/.590 with 22 home runs and 16 stolen bases in just 84 games. But he struck out in 29.6% of his plate appearances, and people thought he would struggle the following season. Boy, they were wrong. His average did dip to .277, but he kept hitting dingers at a torrid pace: 17 in 59 games, and the essential improvements came in his plate discipline, as his walk rate increased from 8.1% to 10.5%, and his strikeout rate dipped from 29.6% to 23.7%.

The Padres saw Tatís talent might have made him virtually unaffordable if they went the traditional year-to-year salary route with him. The Padres offered him a 14-year, $340 million extension on February 17, which he accepted. The Padres know they can build around him for the long haul, and he helps put people on the seats of Petco Park like no other player. You could say he is one of the league’s very best assets on the field and from a revenue standpoint.

Tatís may not be better than Mike Trout, but he does have something that the Los Angeles Angels outfielder lacks; swag and charisma. And that’s not a knock on Trout. People are different, and there is nothing wrong with Trout’s quiet confidence. That doesn’t make him a worse person or player than Tatís. Perhaps if MLB had made a genuine sustained effort to use Trout’s image to promote baseball in America at all levels, we wouldn’t be talking about the Padres’ shortstop as the current and future image of Major League Baseball. It’s unclear if they will make that effort with Tatís, but he does make it a bit easier to sell the product, in my view.

Tatís stellar performance, coupled with his confident demeanor, captivating bat flips, tape-measure home runs, league-leading exit velocities, and evident love for baseball, gives him the edge over just about every other young star in the circuit. He plays the game the right way, even if his style has gotten him in trouble from time to time.

Do you think it is a coincidence that Tatís will be on the cover for MLB The Show 2021? Not a chance. He earned that with blood, sweat, and tears. Now we can enjoy stealing bases, making impossible plays at shortstop, and hitting long dingers while pretending to be Fernando Tatís, the new face of Major League Baseball.