The San Diego Padres currently have the most exciting player in baseball on their roster.
Mike Trout has been the best player in baseball for the better part of half of a decade, that is not up for debate. He churns out 8-plus WAR seasons like your favorite San Diego food truck hands out delicious tacos. However, through 16 games in the shortened 2020 season, the best overall player in baseball resides in America’s Finest City.
Yes, the Padres have the most electric player in baseball. One that is as fast as Mallex Smith and as powerful as Aaron Judge. Does the fresh new brown and gold threads aid in the appeal? Of course. But whether Fernando Tatis Jr. is wearing brown, gold, blue, green, orange, magenta, or cerulean, he oozes swag and displays all the tools available to baseball players.
First, he is tied for the major league-lead with eight home runs and currently leads the entire league in runs scored (15), slugging (.810), OPS (1.226), OPS+ (243), and fWAR (1.7). Plus, he is still a menace on the basepaths with four stolen bases and is yet to commit an error in the field at shortstop with an even 0 Defensive Runs Saved.
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||Padres||1.226|
He is not just putting up ridiculous numbers in traditional stats; he is also a Statcast darling. His bugaboo has been chasing pitches and racking up strikeouts. However, he is chasing less this year, after a 31.8 percent chase rate last year, he has whittled it down to 24.7 percent.
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||Padres||1.7|
|Yoan Moncada||White Sox||0.9|
|Luis Robert||White Sox||0.9|
The Dominican star has the highest “hard-hit rate,” which is a batted ball with at least a 95 mph exit velocity in all of baseball. He is currently the major league leader in average exit velocity at 97.9 mph.
He is hitting balls harder on average than guys named Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Mike Trout. In addition, he is not just doing this with home runs, though his dinger-binge of the last week has been a spectacle. He gets on base at a .417 clip, ranked 15th in all of baseball. His 12.5 percent walk rate is over four percent better than his rookie campaign.
Only three players in all of baseball have a better barrel percentage than the Padres shortstop. “To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification” (via MLB Statcast).
Padres fans know that Tatis’ talents do not end with his bat, in fact, that is just the beginning. His sprint speed is clocked at 29.0 feet per second, 11th-best in all of baseball. His throws to first base from shortstop are among the top speeds among all infielders.
He is far from a one-trick pony, unlike some of his young, hyped counterparts.
Everywhere you look, Tatis is putting up MVP numbers and is leading the league in the majority of major offensive categories. He is either at or near the top in percentile of nearly every category. No other player in baseball is this good at this many things besides maybe the three-time MVP Trout. Thus, Tatis is currently the best player in the National League.
16 games in 2020 is the equivalent to 43 games in the regular baseball world, which is slightly over the quarter of the season. The National League MVP in 2019 was Cody Bellinger, who, through 43 games last year, had a 216 wRC+, which is lower than Tatis’ number this season.
Us: It's still too early to talk about MVP candidates.
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) August 9, 2020
Another good gauge of an MVP is to take away that player and think, where is his team? In the Friars case with Tatis, they are likely slipping into the cellar with the Diamondbacks in the N.L. West and are far from .500.
If the season were to end today, no valid argument could be made against Tatis winning San Diego’s first MVP in 24 years. He is at the top of nearly every statistic and is playing for, if the scenario of the season-ending today continues, a playoff team. The Padres are 9-7 and are the best National League squad not in second place in a division, in a year where the top two teams outside of the first and second place finishers qualify for a playoff spot. Currently, FanGraphs gives the Friars an 80.9 percent chance to make the playoffs, and they have Tatis to thank for that.