MLB

Fernando Tatis Jr. goes viral as 'Slam Diego' returns in 2021

By Sports Desk March 02, 2021

San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. put on a show with a memorable grand slam in a Spring Training win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tatis is fresh off signing a record-setting extension with the Padres last month – an eye-popping 14-year, $340million contract, which is the longest deal in MLB history and also the largest contract awarded to a player not yet eligible for arbitration.

MLB's new poster boy and the generational superstar teased what is to come in 2021 with a grand slam in the second inning of Tuesday's victory against the Diamondbacks.

Tatis sent the ball 441 feet to left field at Salt River Fields – a home run that went viral on social media.

"Hit it about as clean as you can hit a ball," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said of Tatis, who hit his first career grand slam against the Texas Rangers last season. "That was really, really good to see."

Tatis, who flipped his bat in celebration, also singled in the first inning and then stole second as Trent Grisham was allowed to sprint home.

"Had a couple good defensive plays, great at-bats, did something on the bases," Tingler said. "That's everything you want to see."

Tatis won a Silver Slugger award last season, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

The powerful 22-year-old is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

Tatis packs a punch with the bat – he led the majors in average exit velocity (95.9 mph), hard hit percentage (62.2), and balls hit 95-plus MPH (102).

He also enjoyed a remarkable rise defensively following an erratic rookie season at shortstop.

Tatis went from minus-13 outs above average (OAA) to plus-seven – his plus-20 improvement the largest of any player across that period.

When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Mike Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

Using the same timeframe, but for wins above replacement (WAR) among shortstops, Tatis (5.6) ranks ninth. Alex Rodriguez is top (13.6 – 1994-97).

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