Aside from staying healthy, Tatis cannot have the dreaded sophomore slump.
The Padres’ production took a noticeable dip when Tatis was ruled out for the remainder of the season in mid-August. The team went 15-35 after August 13 – Tatis’ last game in 2019 – including a dreadful 7-20 September. Between the stretch of April 29 and June 5, when he missed another significant portion, the Padres went 14-15, so to say the team felt his absence would be a massive understatement.
Tatis spent much of the offseason strengthening his back to avoid missing significant time again in 2020, and assuming he stays healthy, will he be a candidate for a sophomore slump? Fangraphs projects him to finish with .281/.346/.512 line with 20 home runs and 60 RBI. The batting average sounds about right given there will be some league adjustment that Tatis will need to overcome in year two.
A look within the division reveals a sophomore slump came from Cody Bellinger, who happened also to be named the league MVP last year. Bellinger posted a similar line in year two, but his extra-base hits took a nosedive from his rookie season, hitting 14 fewer home runs and driving in 21 fewer runs. That’s the league adjustment I was referring to, but I also think that Tatis could greatly benefit from batting second or third in the order.
I assume his projected statistics are from the leadoff spot, but there are a few other candidates on this roster who could thrive in this role while providing more opportunities for Tatis to drive them in. He also needs to clean up his defense at shortstop, but that should come as the game slows down for him.
However, if Tatis posts a line lower than what’s projected for him, the Padres’ playoff chances are going to take a hit as well.