There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres’ rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is a candidate for the NL ROY award.
In May, Major League Baseball released its first list of Rookie of the Year candidates, and Padres pitcher Chris Paddack grabbed the top spot in the National League. Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, Dodger outfielder Alex Verdugo, and Braves pitcher Mike Soroka all had far fewer votes. A certain Padres shortstop didn’t get a mention. But that shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr. had landed on the injured list with a left hamstring strain on April 30 and didn’t return until the first week of June.
Since that time, Paddack has been shut down for a time and also has been inconsistent. As a result his name has not appeared in most ROY rumors and speculation. However, Tatis Jr. has definitely entered the fray now that he has had the opportunity to display his many talents.
According to Baseball America’s “2019 Midseason Rookie of the Year Watch,” Alonso heads the list of candidates with Tatis Jr., Soroka taking the next two slots. Likewise, cbssports considers Alonso most deserving with Tatis Jr. and Soroka also in contention.
However, according to nbcsports.com’s Ryan Wormell, Tatis tops the list of this year’s crop of rookies. He also commends the Padres and the Mets “for playing Tatis and Alonso from Opening Day this season, rather than play the service time game and hold down their best players in April to gain additional years of team control.” If you’re wondering about betting odds, Alonso held the lead according to sportsbettingdime.com earlier in the season, but has since given way to Tatis and Soroka,
Granted Pete Alonso does lead all rookies in home runs with 38, compared to Tatis’ 22. He also leads in hits with 108, while Bryan Reynolds of the Pirates has 105, Tatis (who missed more than a month) has 103. Alonso tops MLB in doubles with 23, while Tatis’ has the most triples with five. Tatis ranks second in stolen bases with 17, while Alonso has just one.
Alonso’s batting line of 260/.363/.599/.961 cannot compete with Tatis Jr.’s .326/.390/.608/.997. According to Baseball America’s measurement of WAR Alonso rates 3.8, Tatis Jr. 3/0. But Baseball Reference has Tatis Jr. leading with 4.4 WAR (oWAR 4.7, dWAR 0.2), while Alonso’s fielding (dWAR -1.1) adversely affects his overall WAR of 3.9.
The fact that Alonso won the 2019 Home Run Derby contest certainly has helped his reputation, to say nothing of the fact that he plays in New York for the Mets, the team that has come from nowhere to win 14 of 15 games as of August 10th. Before that run, rumors even had the Mets considering a trade of pitcher Noah Syndergaard with San Diego as one of his possible destinations. But, thanks to their surge, New York pulled Syndergaard off the market. In the meantime, Tatis Jr. plays in mid-market San Diego for a team that has faded since the All Star break and now finds itself in a battle for fourth place in the National League West with the Colorado Rockies.
Actually, multiple variables enhance Tatis Jr.’s status as a potential Rookie of the Year. First of all he plays short stop, one of the most difficult and important positions in the sport. Alonso plays first base, a far less challenging position. He, as well as three other first baseman including the Padres’ own Eric Hosmer, has committed nine errors. Yes, Alonso goes yard on a regular basis, but this year balls are flying out of ballparks at an unprecedented rate leading pitchers to grumble about the difference in the balls.
Alonso admittedly has power, but he is a far more unidimensional player than Tatis Jr., who excels in a variety of ways. The Padres’ El Nino makes acrobatic, seemingly impossible plays at short. He creates havoc on the base paths, getting into pitchers’ heads and leading them to divide their attention between the batter and the unpredictable Tatis. He brings a level of expectation and excitement to the field that cannot come close to being matched by a power-hitting first baseman.
In the 50 years of the Padre’s existence only two players, Butch Metzger (1976) and Benito Santiago (1987), have won the coveted Rookie of the Year Award. This year Fernando Tatis Jr. has certainly made a strong case for himself, and he has the remainder of August and all of September to cement his place in Padre history.