With playoffs out of reach, Tatis has one last race left: NL MVP

  • Joined ESPN in 2016 to cover the Los Angeles Rams
  • Previously covered the Angels for MLB.com

LOS ANGELES — Two thousand miles west of Atlanta, where Bryce Harper and his Philadelphia Phillies engaged in a division title chase that ultimately came up short, Fernando Tatis Jr. contemplated a shift in priorities.

The San Diego Padres — impressive at the start, stagnant in the middle, a disaster near the end — had been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention on Saturday night. And so by Tuesday afternoon, hours before the start of a series that should have meant significantly more than it did, Tatis sat inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting dugout and began to turn his focus toward an individual award that remained within reach.

The hollowness was not lost on him.

“It’s really hard, especially with the huge expectations they had for us as a team,” Tatis said of continuing on with the playoffs no longer possible. “It’s just hard. Simple as that.”

Despite the Padres’ shortcomings, Tatis, 22, is locked in what still seems like a wide-open race for the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award — alongside Harper, who willed the Phillies to the edge of contention, and Juan Soto, who is reaching base at rates not seen since Barry Bonds. Harper leads in weighted runs created plus, Soto leads in wins above replacement and Tatis leads in home runs.

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