Can Fernando Keep It Up?

So yesterday New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel announced that Fernando Tatis is his left fielder:

“He right now is our leftfielder,” Manuel said. “There is no question about it.”

I’m not sure whether to take that as a good sign or the kiss of death.

fernando_tatis.jpgPardon my pessimism, but I do have this slight fear that the “official announcement” of Tatis’ status is somehow bad luck. Part of being a Mets fan, I guess … too many Armando Benitez experiences can do that to a person.

Seriously though, can we expect Fernandomania to continue? Tatis is hitting .322, mainly due to his .415 July. Will he keep up that pace?

Of course not. Tatis has been phenomenal in recent weeks, and I absolutely love watching him play because of his constant hustle and hungry approach to the game. But he won’t continue to hit in excess of .400 through September — he’s not Ted Williams.

The question is, then, when he cools off, how will he cool? Will he cool down to be a .300 hitter? A .280 hitter? If so, that’s fine, especially if he continues to drive in runs and hit with some pop. What concerns me is that he might get as cold as he has been hot, and regress to the .252 he was before July. Again, not a big deal, as long as Ryan Church returns AND hits as well as he did in April and May. Which brings us to other questions:

1. Can Church return 100% from his neurological issues, or will they affect his play?

2. Can Church “shake off the rust” and pick right up where he left off before going on the DL?

3. Is the April-May performance we saw the “real” Ryan Church, or was he hitting above his head?

Significant questions for the corner outfield positions going forward.

Naturally, I am rooting for both Tatis and Church to continue on their respective rampages. But at the same time, the logical side of me says that it behooves the Mets to find a legitimate bat to put into the outfield, “just in case”.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. David W. July 30, 2008 at 7:53 am
    You are absolutely right to raise a trio of questions about Church. All we can do is root for him. On the other hand, even if he regresses to 2007 Church, he’s an offensive upgrade over Chavez and so he can compensate for some of Tatis’s near-inevitable regression. I think the offense will be fine–well, good enough. And the starting pitching is a real strength. Our problem is the same as last year–the bullpen is not god enough and they are likely to tire and get worse come September. Either the starters regularly go seven innings (not out of the question) to take some strain off, or we will need an injection of a strong arm.
  2. Micalpalyn July 30, 2008 at 11:16 am
    Bottomline up front anything CAN happen BUT your post has 2 variables i submit there are 3:

    1. Tatis: I dont know if he can keep this up but is he any different from Skip Schumacher, Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan….NO. Tatis is a veteran who has hit in this league before. Maybe some good coaching and hunger got into him. So what if he regresses, that statement has hardly come attached to a 5 yr deal and he could be demoted or cut. BUT his .4154 in July AND his other clutch hits have put us in a position to be competitive and thats all we should ask for from Tatis.

    2. Church: Ryan was an enigma. But his history suggests he had all the potential. Injuries have been an obstacle though. What has me intrigued though is in the midst of this strange injury, Church has hit. He hit before the injury & after the injury.

    3. The biggest enigma of MY 3 is Del. HE has been REALLY HOT AND really cold this yr. The other 2 have been relatively consistent.

  3. joe July 30, 2008 at 11:49 am
    Mic, I beg to differ on Tatis — and I LOVE Tatis.

    Tatis is incrediby different from Schumaker, Ankiel, and Duncan. Tatis is a career .260 hitter who had one unbelievable season (can you say Brady Anderson?) almost 10 years ago. The three Cardinals you mention all are under 30 and doing about what everyone expected from them based on their minor league performances. Schumaker was a .290/.300 hitter with not much power in the minors; Duncan a big guy with a big swing with homerun potential; Ankiel, a guy who after focusing on hitting every day hit 21 and then 32 HRs in the high minors.

    Tatis, on the other hand, is at an age when he should be regressing, and — other than his magical 1999 season — never hit much more than .270, with occasional pop. In his last two years in the PCL — a hitter’s league — he averaged around .270. He’s currently unconscious, hitting way above his head — but hey, Jose Valentin reinvented himself, so there is hope that it can last. My point is that there is no evidence that we can count on it.

    And I don’t agree with Tatis being “relatively consistent” this year. He hit .280 in May and .236 in June. He’s hitting .406 in July. Where is the consistency?

  4. […] similarly to his “outstanding” 2008 — which in reality was only so-so, save for a ridiculously hot July. This is pretty much what Tatis has been throughout his career — a highly streaky hitter who […]