Padres: A look at some epic Fernando Tatis Jr. moments

San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. turns 22 years old on Saturday.

The San Diego Padres have one of the bright young stars of the game today in Fernando Tatis Jr. As big of a star as he has already become, it’s hard to believe that he has yet to play a full 162-game season or that he turns just 22 years old on Saturday. So, we at Friars on Base wish him a happy birthday.

Tatis made the FanSided 250 list that came out late last year, ranking the hottest fandoms around. He figures to be a star in San Diego for many years to come; hopefully, he and the Padres will be able to get a new contract in place before the start of the 2021 season.

Until then, in honor of his birthday, here we briefly look back at three epic Tatis moments from 2020:

The controversial grand slam

Tatis’ father, Fernando Tatis Sr., not only has a birthday just one day before his son does (on January 1), but he also is known for being the only player in major league history to hit two grand slams in one inning when he did that in a game back in 1999 (just after his son was born).

So it seems only fitting that the younger Tatis would make some grand slam waves of his own. On August 17 against the Texas Rangers, with the Padres already up 10-3, Tatis broke what many feel to be an unwritten rule in baseball and swung on a 3-0 pitch with a big lead. The result was a grand slam, and it ended up being one of four straight days in which the Padres as a team would hit one.

The Rangers went on a huge losing streak after that. Did Tatis break the Rangers? Some might say so.

The running over-the-shoulder catch

This incredible catch from the video above took place on August 23 against the Houston Astros, when George Springer hit a short fly to left and Tatis covered a tremendous amount of ground to make the play. It came at a critical point in the game, as the Astros and Padres were tied at three in the eighth inning. (The Padres would score two in the bottom of the eighth and win the game.)

The catch is one of quite a few highlights from Tatis’ brief career so far, but it also highlights how much Tatis improved on defense in 2020 over 2019. His fielding percentage improved from .944 to .984, making just three errors in 2020 after making 18 in 2019, while some of his other defensive metrics also improved dramatically. Tatis is already a force with the bat; if his defense gets even better, watch out.

The two-homer playoff game

The Padres won a playoff series for the first time in 22 years in 2020 thanks largely to the heroics of Tatis against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card round. In that three-game series, he batted 5-for-11 with three walks, but he shone the brightest in Game 2.

In that game, he hit two home runs as the Padres were facing elimination, the first of which came with two men on base as the team was trailing 6-2. (Teammate Wil Myers also hit two home runs in that game.) And how about the bat flip on the second home run?

Tatis not only is one of the game’s best young players right now, but he’s also a ton of fun to watch. On his 22nd birthday, let’s look forward to many more great plays and highlights coming from the Padres’ shortstop.