Padres star rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. evades pickle with incredible, acrobatic slide

·Yahoo Sports Contributor

Padres phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. has done a little bit of everything in his rookie year. He hits for power. He hits for average. He even plays a mean shortstop.

Now we can add expert baserunner to the list.

Sure, Tatis has already stolen 14 bases on 17 attempts, but he put his best show of the year on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves by evading a tag after looking dead in the water on a pickle.

Fellow rookie sensation Mike Soroka caught Tatis leaning at first, and Tatis danced his way towards second until Freddie Freeman flipped it to Dansby Swanson. The shortstop threw it back to Soroka in plenty of time, but Tatis just managed to contort his body around the tag but in the baseline.

As the announcer noted while the play was happening: “If there’s anyone who can get out of a pick, it’s Fernando Tatis Jr.”

The play at first didn’t end up mattering much, as he was stranded at second to end the inning, but his single earlier in the inning was the first of four on the day, a personal best.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 14:  Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres gets back to first base ahead of the tag of Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game at Petco Park on July 14, 2019 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Padres rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. got back to first on an acrobatic slide. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Fernando Tatis Jr. already looks like a star

Tatis entered the season as the consensus No. 2 prospect in baseball, but he’s stolen the spotlight from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with his outstanding overall play.

Despite missing a month with a left hamstring strain, Tatis is 17th in baseball with 3.4 WAR. That’s effectively tied for second among full-time shortstops and only trails Pete Alonso among rookies.

Tatis was expected to be a great hitter one day, but not this quickly. It was a big deal that the Padres ignored his service clock to start the year with him in the majors, and he’s proven their decision correct. While FanGraphs’ ZiPS Projections saw him as a .224/.288/.398 hitter for this season — before becoming a star later — he’s slashing an astounding .339/.406/.615.

Better yet, as illustrated on Sunday, he has a fantastic well-rounded game. Even when he makes mistakes on the basepaths — which are few and far between — he can make up for them with his jaw-dropping athleticism.

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