Tatis finishes 3rd in NL MVP Award voting

Harper claims award; Soto places second

November 18th, 2021

is not an MVP Award winner. (At least not yet.)

The Padres' superstar shortstop finished third in voting for the National League MVP Award, which was unveiled on Thursday night. The Phillies' Bryce Harper came in first place, with the Nationals' Juan Soto in second.

Tatis received two first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and a total of 244 points -- behind Harper’s 348 and Soto’s 274.

After spending much of the season as the presumptive favorite for the award, Tatis' candidacy was likely derailed by the number of games he played. He missed 32 games this season -- mostly due to left-shoulder dislocations, though he also spent nine days on the COVID-IL. Harper missed 21 games and Soto missed only 11.

Nonetheless, Tatis posted the greatest season by a shortstop in Padres history, slashing .282/.364/.611 with 42 homers -- the second-highest total in franchise history. Last week, Tatis took home his second consecutive NL Silver Slugger Award at shortstop. He finished with 6.6 bWAR (ahead of Harper's 5.9) and 6.1 fWAR (behind Harper's 6.6). Even with fewer games played, Tatis built quite the candidacy.

It wasn't enough in the eyes of voters, however, as -- for the second straight season -- Tatis fell short after spending most of the year as the favorite. The 2020 season was its own unique case, as Tatis endured two weeks of struggles in September and faded to a fourth-place finish in a shortened 60-game season.

In 2021, it was mostly injuries that derailed Tatis' MVP hopes. He sustained at least four partial dislocations of his left shoulder, two of which landed him on the injured list. In an effort to preserve his shoulder, the team briefly transitioned him to right field in mid-August, though Tatis returned to shortstop in September.

The Padres, of course, floundered down the stretch, posting an 18-36 record from the start of August through the end of the regular season. It's possible Tatis' candidacy would’ve been viewed differently had the Padres reached the postseason, as many expected. But the reality is San Diego's late-season struggles were hardly Tatis' doing. He posted a .916 second-half OPS -- not quite the heights of his incredible first half, but impressive nonetheless, considering he did so with a balky left shoulder.

Still, it was during that time that Soto and Harper surpassed Tatis in the eyes of BBWAA voters. Both put forth remarkable numbers down the stretch. As such, Tatis still finds himself in search of his first MVP Award after consecutive seasons with top-5 finishes. (He's the first Padre in history to achieve that.)

“It’s always been a dream of myself,” Tatis said during Thursday night’s award show on MLB Network when asked about winning a potential MVP. “Just being in this conversation already this year, it’s something that you dream of.”

Tatis, of course, is one of the sport's preeminent superstars. He's 22 years old and is under contract for 13 more seasons in San Diego. Chances are, he’ll soon be right back in the thick of that NL MVP Award discussion.