San Diego Padres slugger Fernando Tatis Jr. may have Ha Sung Kim to thank this season.
Tatis was suspended 80 games by MLB last year after testing positive for a banned substance. The incident happened in August, just as he was returning from wrist surgery in March, and Tatis missed the entire season without playing a game.
He served the remainder of his suspension after the start of the season and was reinstated on April 21, marking his first big league action since October 4, 2021.
But his position was no longer shortstop. In his return game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, he was in the starting lineup in right field.
There was a reason. San Diego landed offensive-minded shortstop Xander Bogaerts in free agency last winter for 11 years and $280 million. Kim, who more than held his own at shortstop in place of Tatis last year, was pushed to second base, and incumbent second baseman Jake Cronenwirth was moved to first base, creating a positional chain reaction.
The move was made with confidence in Kim’s utility skills, but it was unclear whether Tatis would be able to contribute to the offense once he moved to the outfield.
The general consensus is that the move from defense to starting right fielder has been a success.
Major League Baseball Trade Reporters (MLBTR) published an article titled “The New Fernando Tatis Jr. ),” Tatis’ position in 2023 is not a top-tier defensive position, but his defensive value has skyrocketed. “After posting a below-average OAA (Runs Above Average) of -10 and DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of -9 as a shortstop in his first three seasons in the majors, he ranked seventh in OAA (+12) and first in DRS (+25) among all outfielders this year,” the article said.
“San Diego has seen Zander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, and Darvish Yu struggle this year, while Blake Snell, Juan Soto, and Ha-Sung Kim have stood out,” he continued, “Tatis is no longer a shortstop. With Bogart and Kim filling out the infield, Tatis, a $340 million man, has been able to take over the starting outfield spot.
This means that Tatis was able to focus on the outfield with peace of mind, as Kim was the perfect backup to Bogaerts and Manny Machado at shortstop and third base, respectively, as well as second base.
On offense, however, Tatis hasn’t lived up to expectations. He’s batting .257 (130-for-505) with 23 home runs, 71 RBI, 80 runs scored, and a .777 OPS, but his home runs are half of what they were in 2021. He led the NL in home runs in 2021 with 42 in 546 at-bats, but this season he’s only hit 23 in 558 at-bats.
His wRC+ is still above average at +114, but his ISO (on-base percentage) has dropped from second behind Shohei Ohtani in 2021 to 48th at 0.198, which MLBTR attributes to his relative lack of power.스포츠토토
Tatis is third on the team in fWAR at 4.0, behind Kim (4.5) and Soto (4.2), and second in bWAR at 4.9, behind Kim (5.9). In offense-only bWAR, Soto leads the team with 4.7, followed by Kim with 4.5, Bogart with 3.7, and Tatis with 2.6.
Compared to the stellar outfield defense, the bats have been blunted to half of what they were two years ago. Tatis, who was named a Silver Slugger at shortstop for the second straight year in 2020 and 2021, could win the Gold Glove in the outfield this year.