This slide by Tatis Jr. defies all logic

July 14th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- doesn't make many mistakes on the basepaths. But, hey, it's more fun when he does.

That's when Tatis' raw athleticism takes over. And there aren't many baserunners with a better combination of instincts and agility than the Padres’ 20-year-old rookie phenom.

In a 4-1 loss to Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, Tatis was caught off first base on a pickoff throw by Mike Soroka in the bottom of the first inning at Petco Park. After a brief rundown, he pulled off one of the most acrobatic feet-first slides you'll ever see.

“We grew up in the [Dominican Republic] playing games like that,” Tatis said. “That's where that comes from.”

Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson chased Tatis back to first base before flipping the ball to Soroka -- well before Tatis reached the bag. Not to be deterred, Tatis swerved to his left while stretching his right leg toward the base.

Somehow, he managed to evade Soroka's tag. He clutched the base with his right hand and broke into an exasperated smile.

“I wasn’t expecting him to move that way that quickly,” Soroka said. “That’s why he’s one of the most agile guys in the game. I wasn’t quite ready for that.”

For all of Tatis' elite tools, his baserunning might be most impressive. Already this season, he has scored from third base on two separate infield popups. He has scored from second on two infield ground balls. And he has scored from first on a routine single.

“He's the first guy I've ever seen get a standing ovation for getting picked off,” said Padres manager Andy Green.

Sunday wasn't the first time he pulled off an acrobatic slide to avoid being tagged, though it might have been the first one of the feet-first variety.

“He tends to avoid tags that people think are already made, even when they're not,” Green said. “We make sure we have a challenge when he's on base.”

On top of his baserunning theatrics, Tatis tacked on a career-high four hits. But it wasn’t enough, as the Padres were swept at home by Atlanta for the first time in 13 years.