'Nando rockets past RF expectations, caps stellar season with gold

November 6th, 2023

This story was excerpted from AJ Cassavell’s Padres Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

I'll be honest, in February, I wasn't sure what to expect from in right field.

Yes, it was always clear that Tatis had the tools to become an elite outfielder. He's speedy and rangy enough. His cannon for a right arm would obviously play, too.

But there's so much more to it than that. So, Tatis had the potential to cover some ground? That's not worth much if you're not working on breaks and reads every single day. So, Tatis had an elite arm? Not worth much if you're overthrowing cutoff men or throwing to the wrong bases.

So I reserved judgment on whether Tatis would be able to reach his obvious Gold Glove-caliber ceiling.

Didn’t take him long. Within eight months, he’s already there.

On Sunday night, Tatis took home his first Gold Glove Award, joining fellow Padre , who was named the National League's top utility player. Both are extremely deserving.

In June, our Mike Petriello brought up the fact that Kim and Tatis had the chance to each win a Gold Glove Award in their first seasons after making a position switch.

For an infielder moving spots, that's rare, but not unheard of. It had previously been accomplished by Ryne Sandberg, Pokey Reese, Marcus Semien and Ramon Urías.

But for Tatis to win a Gold Glove in the outfield in his first season after a move from the infield? Well, that truly is unprecedented. He's the first player to do so.

And the honor is well deserved. Despite missing the first 20 games of the season due to suspension, Tatis finished the year leading the Majors with 29 defensive runs saved. His 11 outs above average were tops among all right fielders.

When I learned he'd won the award, my mind immediately went back to February. It wasn't always so clear that the transition would be this seamless.

Here's how Tatis viewed it back then:

"New challenge," he said. "I totally, fully embrace it."

Of course, his actions would always speak louder than his words.

And did he ever back it up. The 2023 season was a tough one for Tatis on several fronts. After missing the entire 2022 campaign, he endured a down year offensively (by his standards, at least). But Tatis' first Gold Glove Award is a testament to the work he put in behind the scenes to make sure his elite tools would shine in right field.