Fernando Tatis Jr. could become the second Padres player to win the National League MVP award.
The 22-year-old shortstop joins the Phillies’ Bryce Harper and Nationals’ Juan Soto as “finalists” for the award, which really means they were the top three vote-getters in balloting at the end of the regular season.
The winner will be announced at 3:15 p.m. PT Thursday on MLB Network.
That means Tatis is assured of improving on his fourth-place finish from last season and will join Mike Trout (2012 and ‘13) and Soto (’20 and ’21) as the only players in the past 10 years to have at least two top-five finishes in their first three seasons.
Tatis led the National League with 42 home runs and drove in more runs (97) than the other two finalists. However, there are indications that Tatis joining Ken Caminiti (1996) as the only Padres players honored as the NL’s MVP is something of a long shot.
Oddsmakers, including oddsshark.com, generally list Harper and Soto ahead of Tatis, who played in 130 games compared to 141 for Harper and 151 for Soto. On Wednesday, respected national writer Jayson Stark of The Athletic wrote a column in which he called it a two-man race and broke down the candidacies of Soto and Harper. While voters (two Baseball Writers of America Association members from each NL city) are instructed not to reveal their votes before the official announcement, Stark conducted an informal poll of people “inside the game.”
Further, Phillies legend Mike Schmidt is presenting the award. On Monday, Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench presented the NL Rookie of the Year award to the Reds’ Jonathan India.
Harper led the National League with a 1.044 OPS, with Soto (.999) and Tatis (.975) right behind. The three players also finished 1-2-3 in OPS-plus — with Harper at 179, Soto at 175 and Tatis at 166. Soto led the NL with a 7.1 WAR, according to baseball-reference. Tatis was second (6.6) and Harper ninth (5.9).
A victory would be the second for Harper, who was the NL MVP in 2015 while with the Nationals.
The American League finalists are the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien of the Blue Jays.