San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. vs. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., halfway through 2019

TORONTO, ON - MAY 25: Josh Naylor #22 of the San Diego Padres is tagge dout as he tries to advance to third base by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on May 25, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 25: Josh Naylor #22 of the San Diego Padres is tagge dout as he tries to advance to third base by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on May 25, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The number two prospect in all of baseball, Fernando Tatis Jr. has exceeded expectations for the San Diego Padres. But what about the number one prospect?

Like it or not, “Fernando Tatis Jr. vs. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.” is a comparison we’ll be making for years to come. The San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays have themselves two franchise players in the making, and only time will tell who better lives up to the hype.

The Dominican rookies have a lot in common: they both have fathers who played in the MLB; they’re both under high pressure to perform in their first year; and, perhaps most importantly, at twenty years old they’re already the faces of their respective up-and-coming franchises.

In their limited opportunities thus far, the pair seems to have met the requisite expectations of being the top two prospects in the league. Let’s take a closer look.


The Padres made Tatis Jr. the youngest player to start on Opening Day in 2019. At 20 years and 85 days old, he was fast-tracked to the MLB after a stellar spring showing. His spring training slash line of .241/.317/.444 with two round-trippers, four RBIs, and six extra-base hits was enough to warrant him a Day One start.

Fans were ecstatic — the Padres chose to place their top prospect in the starting lineup from the get-go, rather than stashing him in the minors for a couple extra weeks. It was a marked shift from the general MLB culture of manipulating service time, and the league feedback was positive.

Tatis Jr. immediately made it clear that the Padres made the right decision.

Of course, he hit a single on his very first major league at-bat. His next time in the box, he hit a bunt single to start his career 2-for-2.

Meanwhile, Vlad Jr. didn’t make the Opening Day roster. He spent the first couple months of 2019 playing Triple-A ball for the Buffalo Bisons. In Triple-A, he slashed .367/.441/.700 with eight home runs in 34 plate appearances.

He was only 20 years and 41 days old, however, when he finally got a taste of Major League Baseball on April 26. He went 1-for-4 that day with a double, and he’d start his career with a hit in three straight games. Guerrero Jr. also flashed defensive potential at third base, in particular his cannon of an arm.

On the one hand, Fernando Tatis Jr. has been a difference-maker for the Friars since day one. On the other, Vlad Jr. is in the middle of the pack for the Blue Jays in most offensive categories, including 4th in BA, 6th in hits, 7th in home runs, and 9th in RBIs. Arguably, the team is led by Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who’s hitting .303/.355/.626 with 16 home runs this season.

Batting Stats

Tatis Jr. has been tearing apart the batting charts. Hitting leadoff, he seems to have a knack of knowing when to use his swiftness and agility vs. when to switch on the power.

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The rookie is slashing .327/.393/.620 with a 1.013 OPS. He’s homered 14 times and has 28 extra-base hits on the year.

Fernando has walked 20 times and stolen 13 bases, which is 65% of the times he has managed to reach base-on-balls. He also has a home run/plate appearance rate of 6%.

However, Tatis Jr. owns an 8.5% BB rate (walks/plate appearances) and a 28.6% K rate (strikeouts/plate appearances), neither of which are very good.

He’s still below the 3.1 average plate appearances per game necessary to qualify as a stat leader, though, and he’s been the Padres’ most consistent hitter regardless.

Conversely, Vlad Jr. has had an average start to his baseball career, hitting .249/.328/.413 through 61 games. He was caught stealing the lone base he attempted, but he’s shown good plate discipline, walking 26 times in 253 plate appearances for a 10.3% BB rate.

He’s all about that power, too, having eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 225 at-bats. He owns the second fastest exit velocity on the year behind Giancarlo Stanton of 118.9 MPH.

Surprisingly, Guerrero Jr. has a lower HR/PA rate of 3.16%, and a K/PA rate of 18.6%. Higher K/PA rates are common among power hitters though, as they tend to swing at more pitches.


Fielding and defense are harder to measure statistically than offense. One thing’s clear though — Fernando Tatis Jr. is churning out highlight after highlight in the box, around the bases, and on the field.

Vlad Jr. has a lot of hype behind him and has shown to be a serviceable defenseman, but he hasn’t impressed defensively nearly as much as Tatis Jr. And as a third baseman, he shouldn’t mind conceding this category to Fernando.

Though a rudimentary statistic, Tatis Jr. has a .963 fielding percentage compared to Vlad Jr.’s .936. As a shortstop, however, Tatis Jr. certainly has more opportunities than third base, having 218 defensive chances vs. Guerrero Jr.’s 125. Both rookies have eight defensive errors thus far.

Nevertheless, Tatis Jr. makes unbelievable plays over and over again, and baseball fans alike expect him to make something happen every time he takes the field.

For Guerrero Jr., another thing to consider is that he might not be set at third base permanently, with talks surrounding the rookie of moving him to first base or even a corner outfield position due to his frame. We’ll have to wait and see if that comes to fruition.

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Impact: Fernando Tatis Jr. vs. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Of course, all of these categories are only a part of each player’s impact as a whole.

Per Baseball Reference, Fernando Tatis Jr. has an oWAR of 3.3 and a dWAR of 0.2. In comparison, Vlad Jr. has an oWAR of 0.9 and a dWAR of -.1.

While neither team was expected to make the playoffs this year, the Blue Jays are 4th in the American League East with a 34-57 record, pretty much out of the running.

Perhaps this will allow Vlad Jr. to play out the rest of the season with less pressure and lower expectations. The same can’t be the said for Fernando, though.

At 45-45 and only 2.0 games out of the wild card race, the San Diego Padres have much more at stake. The pressure is on for Tatis Jr. to perform, and compete, immediately going into the second half of the season.

At the end of the year, an apples-to-apples comparison between Tatis Jr. and Guerrero Jr. will be unfair, given that San Diego is a more complete team than Toronto at this point in time. Tatis Jr. is likely to get the chance to lead his team to the playoffs sooner than Vlad Jr.

Nevertheless, it should be pretty clear by now that we believe Fernando Tatis Jr. has been better than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in almost every category so far. If the San Diego Padres can make it to the playoffs this year, the legend of Fernando Tatis Jr. will only continue to grow as the Friars improve and become more competitive.

Let us know your thoughts on the Fernando Tatis Jr. vs. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. comparison below.

dark. Next. 5 bold predictions for the second half of 2019

For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres’ progress throughout the 2019 season, stay with Friars on Base all season long.