Draft Day Decision: Is Fernando Tatis Worth A 2nd Round Pick? The Answer May Surprise You…

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There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Fernando Tatis Jr., and it is only going to grow larger after he impressed during his rookie year:

334 At Bats
.317 Batting Average (106 Hits)
22 Home Runs
53 RBI
61 Runs
16 Stolen Bases
.379 On Base Percentage
.590 Slugging Percentage
.410 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Those numbers have driven up his price tag as we head into 2020, with an average ADP of 18.04 in early NFBC drafts.  Does he deserve a second round grade?  Can we reasonably expect him to replicate those numbers?  Let’s take a look:

Average

The number that jumps out at you is his BABIP.  It’s a number he can’t maintain, even with a 41.9% Hard% and speed.  He was far too pull heavy (21.6% Oppo%), which makes him prone to the shift, and he will likely continue to struggle with strikeouts.  Overall he posted a 29.6% strikeout rate courtesy of a 15.6% SwStr%, and he couldn’t make contact again all types of pitches (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 11.34%
  • Breaking – 23.23%
  • Off-speed – 24.52%

He saw 55.30% hard pitches last season, and while that number isn’t likely to drop much it’s possible opponents start throwing him fewer.  That could drag him down even further, especially since he struggled to make contact even at Double-A (16.5% SwStr% in ’18).  It all comes together for a .250-.260 type average expectation, not a number that we’d look for from a Top 20 selection.

Power

He showed power both on the road (12 HR in 170 AB) and at home (10 HR over 164 AB), which shows that he has the ability to hit the ball out of any ballpark.  You could argue that he can’t maintain a 31.9% HR/FB, after posting an 18.8% mark at Double-A in ’18, with a 30.9% fly ball rate also dragging down the upside.  Considering he had more home runs (22 HR) than other extra base hits (13 doubles and 6 triples), it’s easy to envision a regression. 

At Double-A he had 16 HR (42 total extra base hits) over 353 AB, so a 30 HR pace isn’t out of the question as he matures.  That could come as soon as 2020, but don’t expect him to replicate last year’s success.

Speed

Considering the state of stolen bases around the game, seeing his ability is a strong positive.  He had gone 16-for-21 in SB at Double-A and has stolen as many as 32 bases in a season.  It’s fair to assume 20+ SB, and that’s obviously a good thing.

Conclusion

A potential 30/20 player isn’t easy to find, but the fact that it could come with a .250ish average will drag down the outlook.  It’s not to say that he’s not worth a second round selection, but consider these names who are going soon after him:

  • Anthony Rendon – 21.12
  • Bryce Harper – 26.04
  • Aaron Judge – 27.85

You can argue that you’d be better off targeting any of them, waiting to take someone like Marcus Semien (ADP of 84.44) a few rounds later to fill your shortstop spot.  Semien may have a few less SB (10-12), but the power is similar and his AVG could be better.  That’s simply a better game plan, making Tatis a player we wouldn’t select quite this high.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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