El Niño season started early in 2023.
Sure, the National Weather Service said it officially began on June 8, 2023, but for San Diego Padres fans, El Niño arrived on April 20 when Fernando Tatís Jr. returned to the Padres lineup. Sure he was moved to a new position — how many shortstops can a team have? — but since his 2023 debut, Tatís had made his presence known.
Consider this: So far in 2023, Tatís has appeared in only 56 games with 260 plate appearances. During that time, he has done some damage.
Fernando Tatis Jr.: How’s the offense?
He’s already hit 15 home runs with wRC+ of 150. Currently, he’s slashing .289/.359/.556 and is worth 3.1 fWAR (he was projected to finish the season with 3.4 fWAR, which provides a sense of just how good he’s been). Why, yes, he has the highest fWAR on the Padres while playing fewer games than his teammates (Juan Soto is behind him at 3.0 fWAR).
Actually, see for yourself:
He is sixth in all of MLB in terms of fWAR and 10th when measured by wRC+.
Fernando Tatís Jr. is back.
How’s the defense for Fernando Tatis Jr.?
Anyone who was concerned that Tatís would struggle in right field can now rest assured that he will be fine. Currently, Tatís has 14 DRS in right — he’s significantly better in right than center. (As a comparison, when he played shortstop, Tatís had a career -9 DRS, which is not good.)
Turns out, having a former shortstop in the outfield can be excellent.
He leads all Padres in this category (Ha-Seong Kim follows Tatís with 10 DRS).
In short, when the Padres moved Tatís to right field, they gained a defensive asset.
How’s the swagger factor for Fernando Tatis Jr.?
Off the chart — there’s no other way to put it. His offensive élan was never in question, and his time away from the game had no negative impact.
But he’s reached a new level defensively. Some outfielders avoid interacting with fans or find them distracting. To that, Tatís says, “More please.”
But wait, there’s more — so much more.
That Tatís is not a finalist moving into Phase 2 is just wrong.
Ignore him all you want, MLB, but El Nińo will not be denied.