In like Gwynn: Tatis an All-Star starter

July 2nd, 2021

Baseball fans know how good Padres shortstop is. He will be the starting shortstop for the National League at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Coors Field on July 13.

In fact, he was the NL’s leading vote getter for the Midsummer Classic in results released Thursday.

Tatis, who will make his first All-Star appearance, will become the first Padres player to make an All-Star start after being voted in since right fielder in 1998. Wil Myers was the last Padres player to start the game, but he did so as the manager’s choice at designated hitter in 2016. Gwynn also was voted to be an All-Star starter in 1999 but did not play because of injury.

Tatis found out he was a starter during the 52-minute rain delay during the Padres-Reds game at Great American Ball Park.

“It feels great. It’s a dream come true,” Tatis said. “It’s something that you dream about. …

“You can feel the love from the fans. They keep showing their love, showing their support. … It’s a huge step for me, but at the same time it’s a huge step for the organization.”

Tatis leads the NL in homers (26) slugging percentage (.697) and OPS (1.082). He has homered once in every 8.88 at bats this year, which is the best rate of at-bats per homer of any player in the Majors.

Tatis received 64% of the vote among the three finalists for the NL shortstop nod during the final stage of voting. The Cubs' Javier Baez got 19%, and the Giants' Brandon Crawford drew 17%.

Tatis’ numbers on the field don’t tell the whole story, according to Padres manager Jayce Tingler.

“I think it’s easy to see the production statistically -- offensively, baserunning, etc.,” the skipper said. “But I think in general, he just adds so much to the value of just our chemistry. He cares about his teammates. His teammates care about him. He plays with energy. He makes people around him and in that clubhouse better. …

“His personality and his love for the game is all contagious. I don’t know how you measure those things, but … it’s significant on our ballclub.”

Even though he is having a dream season, Tatis feels there is room for improvement. 

“I’m still 22. I’m still learning. I feel like every year I keep getting better,” Tatis said. “I have to keep improving my defense. Also hitting, there are a few [things] I need to improve. At the same time, we are being smart about it. Make it simple, enjoy the game, work hard. I feel like everything will take care of the rest.”