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Many consider him the “face of baseball”. Scouts and General Managers rave about him. His high-flying antics and energetic personality electrify any stadium.

When you go to a San Diego Padres game, who are you there to see? 

Any passionate baseball fan would say shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis Jr., still only 22, is already transforming the sport and has yet to play a full 162-game season in the big leagues. Changing the game with his fun and free spirit, Tatis Jr. leads the wave of the younger and passionate generation of ballplayers. The rising superstar adds excitement and energy to the sport, which is exactly what baseball needs in order to grow the brands of players. Major League Baseball missed the mark in 2013-14 by not promoting past stars such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, and Tatis Jr. should not be next. When Major League Baseball does not promote their stars, the impact makes a difference: lower ticket sales, lower jersey sales and overall, a lower outreach for the sport. Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, Ken Griffey Jr., led the 1990s era of baseball with his swag and free-flowing energy on the game. With Griffey Jr.’s voice and guidance leading the Commissioner’s office, Major League Baseball should be on the right path to growing the game and more importantly, promoting the brands of their players.

This past offseason, San Diego realized the generational talent was right in the palm of their hands and locked him in for a mega-contract: 14 years, $340 million. This marks the fourth largest contract in baseball history.

This contract was more than just an extension; it also symbolizes that Tatis Jr. is the undisputed face of baseball. His dyed-blond dreadlocks, rainbow reflective sunglasses and colorful wristbands make him unique on and off the field. Landing a partnership with Gatorade, Tatis Jr. appeared in a series of nationally televised commercials while promoting the company’s new energy drink: Bolt24. Tatis Jr.’s television stint marks the first time a Major League Baseball athlete appeared in a nationwide advertisement in over a decade. The San Diego shortstop also inked an endorsement deal with athletic apparel and sportswear company, Adidas. Rumored to unleash creativity and potentially unveil his own line of cleats with the brand, Tatis Jr. could join an exclusive marketing club along with three-time MVP winner Mike Trout, six-time All-Star Bryce Harper and New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman as the only MLB athletes to have to their own cleats.

In the 2020 season, Tatis Jr. proved his skills at the plate as he placed fourth in National League MVP voting with a slash line of .277/366/.571. As a result, he placed fourth in jersey sales and was named the cover athlete for the globally recognized video game: MLB The Show 21.

Former MLB The Show cover athletes include Javier Baez, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Josh Donaldson. With partnerships landing left and right for ‘El Niño’, German vehicles manufacturer BMW was the latest company to reach out and ink a contract with the rising superstar. As Tatis Jr. continues to show his true colors on and off the field, his marketability will only rise and the ceiling is limitless. Projected to be on a potential Hall-of-Fame path, Tatis Jr.’s outlook on the game will forever change baseball. In comparison to big-market cities — Los Angeles, New York and Chicago — San Diego isn’t brought up much in this category. Even with above-average market city size, Tatis Jr.’s name is at the top of every conversation in the city. If Major League Baseball would love to grow, expand and further the game, Fernando Tatis Jr. needs to lead the way.

Photo: ABC30