After signing his record 14-year, $340 million contract that will keep him in San Diego through the 2034 campaign, Fernando Tatis Jr. has set himself up to do something that, to some, even now, remains unthinkable: dethrone Tony Gwynn as the greatest Padres player of all-time.
Gwynn spent two decades with the team, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Padre’. The story is legend. Local kid attends San Diego State, gets drafted by the Padres in the third round of the 1981 MLB Draft and goes on to turn in one of the greatest careers in baseball history.
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A 15-time All-Star, seven-time Silver Slugger recipient and eight-time Gold Glove winner, Gwynn was the epitome of a franchise player. He did it all, dominating on both sides of the ball. I could write all day about all the accolades and accomplishments of the Hall of Famer, but suffice to say he’s a cornerstone holding up the history of the game.
Which is why it should not be taken lightly when I suggest that, someday, kids won’t consider Gwynn the greatest to ever don the gold and brown. That honor will, instead, fall to Tatis Jr.
Padres winning it all will be the difference-maker for Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tatis Jr. is already on pace for a historic career. Over his first two seasons – one of which was shortened by the coronavirus pandemic – what he’s done is simply amazing.
- .301/.374/.582 | 154 OPS+ | 150 wRC+
He finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2019 and followed it up with a fourth-place finish in National League MVP balloting last season, earning the first Silver Slugger of his career. But in 2020, he also helped the Padres do something they managed just three times during Gwynn’s historic career: make the postseason.
This is where I believe Tatis Jr. will separate himself from Gwynn over the years to come – he’s going to get San Diego over that long-insurmountable hump and deliver the first World Series championship in franchise history.
I have no problem believing that, at an individual level, Tatis Jr. will match Gwynn’s amazing accomplishments on the field. He’s one of the most skilled players of his generation and, given the supporting cast around him in this lineup, he’s incredibly well protected.
We won’t be able to know definitely one way or the other for years, perhaps even decades to come. But don’t be surprised if there’s a generation of Padres fans that someday believe El Niño is, in fact, the new Mr. Padre.