By: Matt Goodwin
Fernando Tatis plays baseball with absolute fire; he’s awesome. His wRC+ in each of the last two seasons was 150 and 149 in 2019 and 2020 respectively (for reference, 100 is average and Mike Trout, was at 178 and 162 in those same years). So far in 2021, he has a HardHit% of 64.7%, a maxEV of 115.9 mph, and a 23.5% Barrel%. Of course, it’s early, and he spent time on the IL because of that shoulder, but the point here is that he’s very, very good at baseball.
On Saturday, he launched two home runs off of Trever Bauer (which is fulfilling on so many levels) and looked dang good doing it, too. Here is the first:
Not only was this ball scorched, but Tatis also had some fun trolling Bauer, covering his eye between first and second in a reference to Bauer pitching with one eye closed in Spring Training, he also mocked Bauer’s little strut as he crossed the plate:
To his credit, which is hard for me to say, Trevor Bauer, at least publicly, said all the right things about it:
It is beyond exciting to watch a generational talent emerge and even better when the player is really, really easy to root for. Fernando Tatis, Jr. is both amazing as a player and super fun as a person. But he’s playing baseball after what looked to be a serious shoulder injury:
I roster Tatis in leagues. I want to watch him play. I want him to help me win. But he’s a human being with a future and a life and people who care about him and I seriously fear that he is putting his talent and longevity at risk by being out there so soon after his injury. He risks re-injury. He risks a new injury from over-compensating and changing his mechanics. He is risking his longevity and ability to be an impact player in the league for the better part of two decades. So while he plays the game with fire, there is a real chance that he is playing with fire in terms of his overall health, and that is worrisome.
This isn’t just my opinion, either. Dr. Jesse Morse of thefantasydrs.com and a sports medicine specialist shares these concerns as you can see for yourself in his video here:
Here is an example of how easy it might be for Tatis, despite the measures he is taking in a new approach to stay healthy, to revert to his old ways. This is his second home run off of Bauer on Saturday. It’s a blast. It’s fun. But Tatis takes his second handoff of the bat, and two hands through the swing are one of the changes he was making to stay healthy:
I hope my fears are wrong and that this never becomes an issue again because what a shame it would be if, instead of having surgery now and being right for next year, he reinjures it, misses a bunch of this season anyway, and causes irreversible damage that shortens what is sure to be one heck of a career. But if this swing on this home run is an indication, I truly fear that re-injury is almost inevitable and that would mega stink for Tatis, for fans, and for baseball as a whole.