Every offseason, MLB Network offers a preview of the upcoming season and ranks the Top 10 players at each position. But one network analyst made a rather interesting selection, and in the process, completely disrespected San Diego Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr.
Brian Kenny, who's one of the premiere broadcasters in baseball, totally missed the mark on this one. While it's fair to argue that players like Juan Soto, Kyle Tucker, and Ronald Acuña Jr. are better than the Padres' right fielder, it's something entirely different to believe that Cincinnati Reds' outfielder Will Benson is better than Tatis.
Benson, who was a platoon outfielder for the Reds in 2023, barely had over 300 plate appearances in 2023 and was little more than a Triple-A prospect at this time last year. Sorry, BK, but you missed this one by a mile.
Fernando Tatis totally disrespected in MLB Network analyst
No disrespect to Benson. The former Cleveland Guardians farmhand enjoyed a good year in 2023. Benson hit .275/.365/.498 and smacked 11 home runs while also stealing 19 bags. And while Tatis' numbers (.257/.322/.449) weren't as good, the 25-year-old missed all of the 2022 season due to an injury and PED suspension. In 2021, Tatis slashed .282/.364/.611 and was in the NL MVP conversation.
Let's also not forget that the Padres young superstar was making the transition to a new position. After years of playing on the infield dirt as a shortstop, Tatis made a seamless transition to right field and posted 29 defensive runs saved (DRS) according to FanGraphs and was worth 11 outs above average (OAA).
Benson wasn't even close. The Reds right fielder, who wasn't good enough to be an everyday player and split time with the likes of Jake Fraley and Stuart Fairchild, recorded 1 DRS and was worth 0 OAA.
Tatis had more home runs (25), RBI (78), and stolen bases (29) than Benson did in 2023. And while Kenny admitted during the segment that he was projecting forward, moving Benson ahead of Tatis is just a massive mistake.
This may only help to fuel Tatis' fire. While it's true that the offensive production was down little bit, his speed and defense were ever-present in 2023. The Padres right fielder will be looking to return to his rightful spot atop the upper-echelon of major league players heading into the 2024 season. A strong campaign could even see Tatis overtake his former teammate, Juan Soto, among MLB's best right fielders.