Fernando Tatis Jr. had an extraordinary 2023 defensively in his first season as a right fielder for the Padres. He led all players with 29 Runs Saved at the position. No one else had more than 10. He won the Fielding Bible Award and MLB’s Platinum Glove Award for the National League.

It was all the more remarkable given that Tatis had never previously played right field before. He went from complete newbie to within 1 Run Saved of matching the most in a season by a right fielder in the 21-year history of the stat.

But through the first two months-plus of 2024, Tatis Jr. has not been able to replicate that excellence.

Entering today, Tatis Jr. has -3 Runs Saved. He’s been more Nick Castellanos than Mookie Betts on defense this season.

Before looking into the whys and hows of this, I want to get slightly more specific on how good Tatis was last season.

Of those 29 Runs Saved, 21 came from his range. The only other right fielders to post 20 Range Runs Saved in the 21-plus year history of Runs Saved are Betts and Jason Heyward.

Twenty one Runs Saved from range means you made a lot of catches that other outfielders didn’t make. Here are a few of them.


That last one, which happened to be against Betts, was worth about 0.8 Runs Saved. It was Tatis’ 4th-highest-valued catch in 2023. In our system, that play has a 22% out probability.

Tatis doesn’t have any catches with that high of a run value yet this season. And if we dip down further Tatis has only 6 catches worth even one-quarter of a run this season. That’s lowering the bar beyond just considering his great catches to now counting ones that our system would consider good catches. He had 47 catches worth at least one-quarter of a run in 2023.

Plays Worth >=.25 runs Plays Worth <=-.25 runs
2023 47 18
2024 6 13

For the purposes of simplicity of this article, I’m going to largely stick to evaluating his range rather than his throwing. It’s worth noting, though, that he’s had worse results there as well. His Runs Saved from throws has dropped from 7 in 2023 to 0 in 2024.

In 2023, Tatis allowed only 48 of 118 baserunners (41%) to advance an extra base. He threw out 9.

This year, he’s allowed 27 of 51 to advance (53%) and thrown out 3.

Arm strength isn’t a factor. He’s currently No. 1 in average throw velocity. So while there might be something amiss here, it’s a pretty short time frame to evaluate throwing if we don’t see a smoking gun in his throwing speed.


So what did I notice about his range from film watching and stat studying*?

*thanks to our Video Scouts who chart all this information

1) Tatis has been less effective in just about any type of effort play, though the effort to make those plays is absolutely still there. He’s still sprinting for balls plenty.

2023 2024
Sprinting 44% (24/54) 28% (9/32)
Sliding 67% (6/9) 20% (1/5)
Jumping 67% (10/15) 33% (3/9)


That last play brings up a point that maybe Tatis’ aggressiveness has gotten the better of him a few times. He’s been tagged with 18 Defensive Misplays & Errors in right field by our Video Scouts. He totaled 24 last season.

2) Besides those above, there have been a few odd-looking plays that had the opposite issue.

In taking notes on the 12 balls for which Tatis was penalized the most, I wrote “pulls up on it” for 4 of them.

These kinds of balls were probably no-problem catches for Tatis last year.

But this year, those catches aren’t sure things.

3) I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with Tatis physically.

Per MLB’s stats, he’s done better at covering ground in the first 1.5 and second 1.5 seconds in 2024 than he did in 2023. And he’s down only a smidge in route efficiency.

He’s only 25 years old. For a player that age there shouldn’t be any sort of significant decline in these numbers and there isn’t.

4) You can make a case that some of the dip in Tatis’ Runs Saved is a product of opportunities or lack thereof.

Just look at the number of chances he’s had on balls with out probabilities ranging from 25 to 75%.

Plays Made Opportunities Plays Above Expected
2023 42 60 +11**
2024 6 16 -2

** Read this as: Tatis made 42 of 60 plays. He had 11 more made plays than an average fielder would have.

He’s playing at a pace that would produce 34 opportunities if he played the same number of innings in which he got 60 in last season.

On one hand, that would have given up more chances to make the great plays last season. On the other, there’s no guarantee of that given what he’s done with the opportunities he faced.

Flipped The Script

So in the end, I generally like to have a solid conclusion to these articles. This is one case where I don’t. He’s playing hard, but the results aren’t coming together.

It does feel like if Tatis had played like he’s currently playing in right field last year, we’d have said, “That makes sense.” The issues we’re seeing are ones we’d have expected to see from a player in his first year at a position.

That the script has flipped and that these issues have come in Year 2 have me thinking that I truly have no idea what will happen next.