Tatis Jr. Vaults Back Into NL MVP Lead With Position Change

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When you’re a shortstop you’re probably the best athlete on the team. So it’s not surprising that San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has returned from injury to play right field, and he is playing like he never missed a day.

A week ago Sunday, Tatis Jr. smacked not one, but two homers in his return to the Padres lineup. He hit another homer two days later. Just like that… WHAMO! …he was back from a two-week absence due to a shoulder injury. As a result, Tatis Jr. is still firmly in position at the head of the pack to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Due to his shoulder issues (even though it’s not his throwing arm), Tatis Jr. is not capable of taking on the demands of the long throws from shortstop to first base. But in right field he can hide that defect a bit and concentrate on catching the occasional fly ball and hitting. As of this morning, he has three doubles and three homers since returning to the lineup. For the season, the Dominican is hitting .297 with 34 homers (tops in the NL), 76 RBIs, and a league-best .655 slugging percentage and 1.026 OPS. He also has 23 steals.

Everyone, including opponents, can see how special Tatis Jr. is.

“He’s so much fun to watch, just the way he plays this game,” Phillies outfielder and MVP candidate Bryce Harper told the San Diego Union-Tribune last weekend. “He’s so good for San Diego, so good for the fans. It’s just so much fun to watch for everybody in baseball. He’s a rare talent and it’s just fun to watch.”

With his enthusiasm and production, Tatis Jr. is back where he belongs, even as the Padres spiral into a tenuous position as a playoff team. His power numbers and importance to the lineup keeps the 22-year old in the forefront as the NL MVP. But he has challengers.

Here are the current odds for NL MVP from three sportsbooks:

National League Most Valuable Player Odds

Fernando Tatis Jr.Padres-300-300-300
Bryce HarperPhillies+1000+700+700
Max MuncyDodgers+700+750+700
Freddie FreemanBraves+850+1200+1000
Trea TurnerDodgers+3500+2500+1500
Joey VottoReds+2500+3000+3300
Austin RileyBraves+3500+3000NA
Nick CastellanosReds+8000+6600+6000
Brandon CrawfordGiants+8000+8000+8000
Manny MachadoPadres+9000+8000+8000

Someone find out why PointsBet doesn’t have Austin Riley listed in their odds for NL MVP. I feel like that’s an oversight. He won’t win, but he’s having a nice season for Atlanta.

Tatis Jr. would be the first MVP to change positions from a skill infield position to the outfield in that MVP year. By skill position I mean shortstop, third, or second. You just don’t see a middle infielder or third baseman change positions in the middle of an MVP season.

Your Favorite Baseball Moment of the Week

On Sunday, Miguel Cabrera hit his 500th career home run, becoming the 28th player in MLB history to reach that milestone. Sometime early next year, most likely, Cabrera will get his 3,000th hit, which will put him in an even more special club: only six players (Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols) have that many homers and that many hits.

This gets me to thinking: who may be the next batter to reach 3,000 hits? And who might be the next to reach 500 homers? We may be in a stretch where we don’t see those numbers reached for a while.

The Next Milestones in MLB

Nelson Cruz500 HR4044357If someone wants to pay him to be a DH, probably gets there in 2023. But it's not a given.
Robinson Cano500 HR37334166Sat out 2021 season due to steroid use. Won't get to 500 HR.
Giancarlo Stanton500 HR31332168Most likely to get there next, assuming Cruz fizzles.
Justin Upton500 HR33324176I'd say he has a one in five chance.
Joey Votto500 HR37323177His comeback season makes this a possibility, but still a long, longshot.
Mike Trout500 HR29310190Yes. The question is: can Trout hit 700 homers?
Miguel Cabrera3000 Hits38295545Probably in April of 2022. 100% chance he gets there.
Robinson Cano3000 Hits372624376See comment about 3,000.
Yadier Molina3000 Hits382089911No chance
Joey Votto3000 Hits372005995He walks too much to get there.
Justin Upton3000 Hits3317481252Won't be healthy enough to rack up enough hits.
Jose Altuve3000 Hits3117391261I think it's a longshot: he's small and middle infielders who are small do not age well.
Freddie Freeman3000 Hits3116621338Great chance for 3,000 hits.
About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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