Padres News: Fernando Tatis Jr. is hitting the ball harder than ever

Sometimes, it’s really easy to forget how young Fernando Tatis Jr. is. His baseball IQ is so high and his athletic abilities so otherworldly, you feel like he’s been doing this at the big league level for years.

But at just 22, Tatis Jr. has decades left in the sport – good news for the San Diego Padres, who inked their young superstar to a record contract this spring – and odds are, he’s not even close to his prime years. So seeing what he’s done on the field already in 2021 is enough to make your jaw hit the floor.

You might think coming back from a shoulder injury would slow him down – but you’d be sorely mistaken. The San Diego infielder has come roaring back with a vengeance, putting the team on his back against the Dodgers over the weekend, with the Padres taking three of four from the reigning World Series champs.

Tatis Jr.’s seven home runs trail only Rhys Hoskins’ eight in the race for the league home run crown – but that’s not what caught my attention when going through my morning ritual of fawning over this kid’s performance.

He’s not just hitting home runs. He’s absolutely massacring mistakes right now.

Padres: Tatis Jr. is smashing the ball

Last season, he barreled the ball just over 19 percent of the time with an average exit velocity of 95.9 MPH, according to Baseball Savant. This year, though, he’s barreling up opposing pitchers 24.3 percent of the time and carrying an average exit velocity of 96.2 MPH – which ranks in the top two percent of the league’s hitters and trails just Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge on the leaderboard.

He’s perfectly matched his 62.2 percent hard-hit rate from 2020 and his max exit velocity clocks in at a staggering 115.9 MPH. If you throw him a fastball, odds are you’re going to pay for it. He’s batting over .300 against fastballs this season – with six of his seven long-balls coming on the heater.

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Coming off Monday’s day off, Tatis Jr. is rested up and ready to go. Let’s see what he has in store for us this week in Arizona.