Here’s a fun fact that seems very appropriate for the 2020 season: You can’t spell “statistics” without the help of a young superstar who appears on pretty much every offensive leaderboard this summer: Fernando Tatis Jr.
See it now? It’s s-TATIS-tics. Yep. You’ll never not see that again. You’re welcome.
The junior Tatis has been incredible this season. A look at his Baseball-Reference page on Thursday morning shows lots of sTATIStics in bold, the Topps-fueled indication that he’s leading the National League in that category (or tied for the lead). For Tatis, that list includes home runs, stolen bases, RBI, runs, total bases, PAs, ABs and games played.
And that’s just traditional sTATIStics (OK, I’ll stop now). Scroll down his B-R page and you’ll see he’s tops in the NL in bWAR (for position players), runs created, extra-base hits, adjusted batting runs and others.
This is a special player, doing special things at 21 years old. And he’s having so much fun along the way that you can’t help but love the guy. Well, unless you're a diehard fan of another NL West team or the Rangers’ manager. Tatis is EXACTLY the type of young, exciting, joy-filled superstar who can help attract the next generation of fans to the sport.
So today, we’re going to celebrate Tatis’ amazing season by looking at the five most thrilling, joyous moments of his 2020 season. First, though, you gotta watch this moment from 2019, when he went all Matrix on the Braves.
Just incredible. OK, now on to 2020’s top five.
5. Aug. 8: Two home runs
Why it’s here: Tatis spent a good portion of the season as the Padres’ leadoff batter before dropping a few spots to better use that power in recent days. In this game, he smashed a 1-0 pitch from Merrill Kelly over the wall in left field to lead off the game and give the Padres a 1-0 lead. Be sure to watch the dugout dance at the 40-second mark. The second one, in the eighth inning on a 2-0 count, was much more of a no-doubter.
4. July 27: Smoked line-drive triple
Why it’s here: The ball never got more than six feet off the ground, but because Tatis hit the baseball so very hard — 107.2 mph exit velocity — the ball shot all the way to the wall. Watch Starling Marte, the Diamondbacks’ center fielder who owns a pair of Gold Gloves, take the wrong angle because the ball was hit so sharply. By the time he picked it up in by the wall, Tatis had more than enough time to race all the way to third without a throw.
3. Aug. 5: 434-foot homer
Why it’s here: Oh, my. That’s the only appropriate reaction to watching the baseball jump off Tatis’ bat. Oh, my.
2. Aug. 1: Game-tying solo shot
Why it’s here: Rockies closer Wade Davis had retired the first two Padres batters he faced in the ninth inning of a 5-4 game, moving one out away from his third save in as many tries this year. Davis tried to sneak a 2-1 fastball past Tatis, but the youngster jumped all over it, smacking a 395-foot homer into the stands in left field to tie the game. Tommy Pham followed with a three-run homer a few batters later and the Padres pulled out an 8-5 win.
1. Aug. 17: Well, duh ...
Why it’s here: It’s not just the most famous 3-0 swing of the past decade. That was his second home run of the contest, and the first one was equally as impressive, for a different reason. Know how the Padres got their seven-run lead? Tatis hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, an absolute line-drive shot with an exit velocity of 112.6 and a distance of 405 feet. The launch angle was only 17 degrees.
And then, the famous 3-0 swing and ensuing, dumb controversy we wrote about here.