San Diego Padres: Predicting the rest of the 2023 season for Fernando Tatis Jr.

Mar 16, 2023; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, Arizona, USA; San Diego Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr.
Mar 16, 2023; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, Arizona, USA; San Diego Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. / Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

He's back! Well, almost. Padres' superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. is slated to make his much-anticipated 2023 debut on April 20 against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

It's a long time coming for Tatis Jr., who after initially missing the 2022 season recovering from injury, was later suspended 80 games for PED usage that cost him any chance of returning last year.

But now, the 24-year-old is on the cusp of a grand return. So what can we expect from Tatis Jr. in 2023 with the Padres? A lot, to say the least.

What to expect from Fernando Tatis Jr. in 2023 with the San Diego Padres

For starters, he's expected to play right field after taking reps there in the spring, and of course, given the signing of Xander Bogaerts to play shortstop. Tatis could also see some time at DH, along with Nelson Cruz. It remains to be seen how proficient the 24-year-old's glove will be in right field, although he has an excellent throwing arm.

Tatis Jr. is best with the bat in his hand, however. With that in mind, let's re-visit his Baseball Reference and FanGraphs' 2023 offensive projections.

Baseball Reference

FanGraphs (ZiPS)

.276/.353/.542, 15 HR, 41 RBI, .895 OPS

.266/.347/.598, 31 HR, 73 RBI, .916 OPS

Baseball Reference's projections seem quite conservative, especially in the home run tally, for Tatis Jr. in 2023. FanGraphs' ZiPS' projections are a renowned model, and seem to paint a fuller picture of his potential production this season.

In a lineup that also includes Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz and Jake Cronenworth, Tatis Jr. should have plenty of opportunities to rack up big numbers at the dish. And if his recent, torrid stint in the minor leagues was any indication, Tatis Jr. appears ready to pick up right where he left off in 2021.

The Padres are essentially adding an MVP-caliber player to their lineup just a handful of games into the season, which hasn't gotten off to a great start for San Diego. The idea is that Tatis Jr. will be the spark plug this team needs to re-calibrate expectations and re-load as they make a push for a World Series title in 2023.

Padres fans will be able to see Tatis Jr. in his first home game at Petco Park in over a year on May 1 against the Cincinnati Reds.