Sports Fernando Tatis Jr.'s first 162 games made history — even over three seasons
'It's going to be a good test for us': Padres meet reigning World Series champ Dodgers for first time in 2021
The San Diego Padres' quest to knock the Los Angeles Dodgers from their perch atop the NL West begins with a big early season series this weekend.The eight-time division champ and reigning World Series champion Dodgers and upstart Padres will play 19 games this season, starting Friday night and culminating Sept. 30 at Dodger Stadium, which could either be a playoff tuneup for the Dodgers or a pitched battle for the National League West title.
With his handful of national endorsement deals, his ability to command the nightly highlight shows with stupendous athleticism and the baseball-loving public's thirst to celebrate his many feats, it's easy to forget that Fernando Tatis Jr. has yet to even complete a full season in the major leagues.
His three years with the San Diego Padres have been curtailed by hamstring, back and wrist injuries sandwiched around the COVID-19 pandemic that limited the 2020 season to 60 games.
'The most exciting thing I've ever been a part of': Padres-Dodgers rivalry comes to life
Perhaps the two best teams in baseball, the Dodgers and Padres face off 19 times this season after meeting in the 2020 postseason.The guttural sounds of “Beat LA!" chants echoing throughout the night.
Yet Tatis, now 23, is approaching a milestone — 162 games played — that makes his accomplishments easier to contextualize.
And they are historic.
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Tatis on Sunday played his 158th career game and it was a memorable one — he homered for the fifth time in three games at Dodger Stadium and stole a base that set up the go-ahead run in the 11th inning as the Padres won another epic over the Dodgers.
Now, 158 games in, Tatis' career totals would make for a phenomenal season: 46 home runs, 31 stolen bases, 107 RBI, a .957 OPS, a 156 adjusted OPS.
Mookie Betts seals Dodgers' win against Padres with incredible diving catch
Gold Glove outfielder Mookie Betts made a diving catch to preserve the Los Angeles Dodgers' 2-0 win over the rival San Diego Padres on Saturday night.Whatever it is, it'll have to be something incredible to top the ending of Saturday night's game in San Diego, which the Dodgers won 2-0 behind seven strong innings from Clayton Kershaw.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tatis is the only player in history with at least 40 homers, 100 RBI and 20 stolen bases through his first 162 games.
Indeed, Tatis' career production would rank among the finest seasons ever by a shortstop, up there with Alex Rodriguez's 2003 AL MVP season in which he hit 47 home runs and produced a .995 OPS and 147 adjusted OPS — all admittedly chemically-enhanced.
"I truly believe he's the best talent in baseball," teammate Eric Hosmer said after Tatis took reigning Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer deep twice on Saturday night. "I'm enjoying every piece of history he's a part of."
Now, the challenge: Keeping it all together for a single, 162-game season.
Tatis' 2019 rookie season was curtailed at the front and back end — a hamstring injury he suffered in his 27th career game, and a stress reaction in his back that ended his year in mid-August, after just 84 games.
Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. marks anniversary of dad's historic feat with two of his own homers
The younger Tatis homered in consecutive at-bats 22 years to the day that his dad hit two grand slams in an inning. And, he did it in the same stadium.The Padres shortstop went deep in consecutive at-bats against Clayton Kershaw during a 6-1 San Diego victory, but even better than the "what" was the "when": Tatis did it on the 22nd anniversary of his father hitting two grand slams in the same inning.
Tatis did play in 59 of 60 games in 2020, but after batting .314 with a 1.068 OPS in his first 43 games, tailed off badly, batting .164 with a .533 OPS over his final 62 plate appearances, though he finished with a .933 OPS.
This year, a left shoulder injury put him in a 3 for 18 tailspin coming out of the gate before suffering a subluxation, leading to an injured list stint and worries he may need significant surgery.
Instead, the rest did Tatis plenty of good, as he's produced a 1.133 OPS in 10 games and slugged six home runs, all against the Dodgers.
Tatis is still just 22 and his game must continue to grow, particularly on the defensive end, where he's committed a major league-high nine errors and occasionally exhibits poor judgment trying to make a play.
Yet that growth seems inevitable if paired with good health, so far the only impediment to Tatis fulfilling his destiny as a superstar, with the skills that compelled San Diego to sign him to a 14-year, $340 million extension in the offseason.
They expect more than a decade of greatness. So far, he has delivered them one phenomenal season — even if it's come in fits and starts.
Dodgers rally past Padres 5-4 despite 2 more homers by Tatis
LOS ANGELES — The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers are scheduled to square off nine times in September. They're already playing as though the division title is on the line in late April. The defending World Series champions overcame another two-homer night from Fernando Tatis Jr. and a strong outing by Blake Snell to rally for a 5-4 victory over the Padres on Saturday. Corey Seager's two-run single in the sixth was part of a three-run inning that put Los Angeles ahead. “It was a fun baseball game to be a part of,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We threw the ball well, took good at-bats, created stress and got a couple big hits.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Three Strikes: Anthony Rizzo's hilarious strikeout, a sad Mets trend and a call no one understood .
A humorous strikeout, a frustrating trend for MLB's best pitcher and a controversial ruling highlighted Wednesday's action around the diamond.Phillies star Bryce Harper got hit in the face with a 97 mph fastball in Philadelphia's 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals and had to leave the game, but the slugger posted a video on his Instagram account later in the evening to assure fans "everything feels good.