Fernando Tatis Jr. jumped from the 10-day injured list into a new arena Sunday afternoon against the Arizona Diamondbacks and wasted no time making his one-of-a-kind presence known. Playing right field for the first time in his career, the San Diego Padres star went 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI in an 8-2 victory.
Tatis had missed 15 games with a partially dislocated left shoulder. Combined with a previous stint on the IL earlier this season, the 22-year-old phenom has now been on the outside looking in for 32 contests. Despite spotty availability, he sits atop the National League with 33 homers and 23 stolen bases.
ESPN's Paul Hembekides alerted us all to this freakish reality this morning. For context, no player has led his respective league in both categories since Chuck Klein pulled it off for the Philadelphia Phillies way back in 1932. Klein played in all 154 regular-season games during that campaign, which obviously carries tremendous value in the counting-stats department.
Tatis is seven homers clear of Joey Votto, who interestingly enough has blasted 26 while missing 31 games. The rest of the top-5 (Adam Duvall, Nolan Arenado and Freddie Freeman) have all played at least 104 games. Freeman and Arenado each have at least 115 more at-bats than Tatis. Barring another injury or sudden surge, the Padres superstar should walk away with this honor, likely eclipsing the 40-longball mark.
In the speed department, Tatis is tied with Trea Turner, who has played 17 more games and accumulated 102 more at-bats. Miami's Starling Marte is second with an even more efficient 32 swipes in 78 games. This figures to be a tight race down the stretch.
The 40-40 club, which Tatis will probably fall short of in the steals department, is so special because it balances competing goals. It's a zero-sum game as each homer makes it harder to steal bases. And stealing bases only becomes an option when not homering.
If production continues, we're looking at one of the most exceptional and unique individual offensive seasons in Major League Baseball history. The type of otherworldly accomplishment that's tough to contextualize. Becoming the first to run and blast with this proficiency in 89 years is a good start. Doing it with essentially one arm tied behind his back would be legendary.