Los Angeles Dodgers fans really, really hope the folks in San Diego enjoyed last year's NLDS upset, because the Padres are going nowhere fast. The Dodgers are looking to take three out of four on Monday afternoon after a convincing win on Sunday Night Baseball.
Speaking of which ... the ESPN broadcast wasn't too kind to the Padres when the subject of Fernando Tatis Jr. came up. The Pads, now 55-57, remain far out of a Wild Card spot and are stuck with below-average or inconsistent performances from their top players.
Tatis Jr. has been a recent victim of underwhelming play, not to mention his unbalanced output to date. He's been buoyed by a monster month of June (.318 AVG., .991 OPS) while his April, May and July have been nothing indicative of an All-Star player.
The ESPN broadcast wondered if his "swag" and confidence were diminished as a result of all that's happened to him since the tail end of the 2021 season, and Eduardo Perez thinks that Padres are at fault for failing to rectify all that had gone wrong ... or at least it sounded that way.
Perez cited learning a new position, being exiled from shortstop, and no longer batting leadoff as three factors that are likely contributing to Tatis' mediocre 2023 (.262/.320/.477 with 62 runs scored, 19 homers, 58 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 92 games).
ESPN broadcast criticizing Padres for Fernando Tatis Jr.'s struggles is fuel for Dodgers
The Padres brought in Xander Bogaerts on a historic 11-year contract this past offseason, which essentially booted Tatis from his natural shortstop position. That was the move that pushed him to right field and, although he's performing well in his new role defensively, it's far from the marquee spotlight he was used to handling while possessing the most important defensive position.
Perez also feels that Tatis "identified" with being the Padres' leadoff hitter, another badge of honor that was seemingly taken away from him. He's led off 45 times out of 102 games this year, but the Padres have yet to notice his numbers while batting first are night and day compared to his production in the two-hole.
- Fernando Tatis Jr. batting 1st - .289/.356/.529 with 30 runs scored, 11 HR, 24 RBI and 10 SBs (45 games)
- Fernando Tatis Jr. batting 2nd - .235/.292/.441 with 28 runs scored, 8 HR, 28 RBI and 7 SBs (40 games)
Care for a larger sample size outside of 2023?
- Fernando Tatis Jr. batting 1st - .309/.374/.599 with 126 runs scored, 49 HR, 111 RBI and 36 SBs in 161 games
- Fernando Tatis Jr. batting 2nd - .246/.324/.495 with 101 runs scored, 33 HR, 83 RBI and 24 SBs in 133 games
It didn't help that the Dodgers owned him multiple times this weekend, first with James Outman's home run robbery, then with Joe Kelly's savage taunting, and then with Michael Grove completely fooling him on three pitches.
He's 0-for-12 in this series with a walk.
Perez's commentary here has come under fire because of some general inconsistencies, but overall he's not wrong that the Padres may have moved him around too much and have helped spur a largely poor campaign from the 24-year-old.
With all that's going wrong in San Diego, Tatis' play actively suffering despite the roster getting better and the young slugger beginning with a clean slate very much feels like one of the more unforgivable developments.