SAN DIEGO – These last two months haven’t been easy for Padres fans, but the season’s end is in sight.
But as the team wraps its final series of the year this weekend, the Padres PR staff is ramping up a campaign for Fernando Tatis Jr. to win the National League MVP award.
The 22-year-old shortstop (and recent outfielder) certainly has put up MVP-caliber numbers in 2021. He leads the National League with 42 home runs, second-most in team history. Tatis also leads the league in slugging percentage, offensive WAR and he just became the 15th player in big league history — the only one age 22 or younger — to hit at least 40 homers and steal 25 bases in a single season.
“I feel like the numbers speak for themselves,” Tatis said. “What I did this year with the passion I did it, I feel like I show up every time I’m on the field and you just see the passion in how I play the game and the numbers can dictate everything.”
All of it came as he was the first Padre in more than 20 years to get voted into the All-Star Game’s starting lineup while missing 30 games this year due to injury and shifting away from his natural position.
On Thursday night, he made a bit more history by blasting an absolute missile of a home run out of Dodger Stadium, only the fifth player ever to do that.
“It was in the sweet spot,” he said. “Right swing in the right moment and yeah I got that one pretty good.”
While his value is hardly in doubt, what does it mean on a team likely finishing under .500 and far out of the playoff picture? In the past decade, only two NL MVPs (Giancarlo Stanton in 2017 and Bryce Harper in 2015) have won the award on teams that didn’t make the playoffs.
Only seven total MVP awards have gone to players on a team with a losing record, something the Padres own for the tenth time in the past 11 seasons.
If Tatis were to win it, he’d join slugger Ken Caminiti in 1996 as the only Padres named the NL MVP.