Earlier this week the San Diego Padres and star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. agreed to an enormous contract extension worth a reported $340 million over 14 years. Tatis Jr. is entering only his third year in the majors, but has already emerged as one of the game’s young stars.
However, baseball fans around the country aren’t ready to anoint Tatis Jr. just yet. According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, Fewer than one-third of fans think the shortstop is the next “best player in baseball.”
it is kinda hard to be sure, considering Tatis has played less than a full season to this point - only 143 games in total. They have, however, been stellar, worth 7.0 bWAR. While other players have put up more through age 21 - Mike Trout had 19.9 bWAR - they have done so in considerably more games. For a comparable ratio, you’re looking at Frank Robinson or Ted Williams, who put up 13.4 and 13.3 bWAR in about their first 300 games. More recently, Carlos Correa had 11.8 in 252 games, or perhaps Ronald Acuna Jr (9.9 in 267). We’ll see how Tatis progresses going forward, but I’d say his current path is undeniably impressive.
One of the things that has been most celebrated about Tatis Jr. is the excitement he brings to the game both offensively and defensively. His flair and swagger has earned national television commercials and the cover spot on MLB The Show 21. But fractionally fewer fans believe he is currently the most exciting player in the game.
Not a big fan of “flair” and “swagger”, personally. I think the only thing worse than those who complain about bat-flips, are those who get inexplicably excited about them. I have greater respect for the blue-collar, understated approach of a Paul Goldschmidt; sure, enjoy playing the game, but you can do so without actions that border on taunting the opposition. And now, if you kids would just get off my damn lawn while you’re at it.
Most telling, perhaps, is what fans think their favorite team should do if they were presented with a similar opportunity to lock-up a young talent to a deal like the one signed by the Padres. Fewer than half of fans around the country would want their team to sign a contract like that.
Startlingly, only 36 percent of Diamondbacks fans would want the team to make the deal. The low figure is perhaps the result of a “Tomas hangover”; the last large contract handed out to a young player ended up handcuffing the team financially for several seasons, with the player himself becoming the most well-paid minor leaguer in baseball for a couple of years. While Tatis has already proven far more valuable in 143 games, than six full years of Yasmany, it perhaps explains the reluctance of Arizona fans to make that kind of commitment. We’ll see how it works for San Diego... in 2034!
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