At 21, Fernando Tatis Jr. already carries the ‘Face of Baseball’ label, even as MLB aims to diversify the field

For all its modernization, baseball remains the most deliberate of pastimes, where patience is rewarded, seven-month sample sizes outflank isolated moments of brilliance and its most compelling figures often have minimal impact on the outcome.

Such randomness remains integral to the game’s charm, yet a hurdle to superstardom in an increasingly noisy world. And so when it comes to anointing the next big thing, the game often can’t help itself.

Major League Baseball, hungry for relevance among the youngest demographics, shines a spotlight on its emerging stars from the moment they exit the team bus.

A media industry struggling to cultivate audience moves on quickly from one buzzy star to the next, perpetually eager to unearth the next “face of baseball.”

And advertisers, operating in a world where A-list celebs’ reach can be topped by a TikTok-ing potato factory worker lip-syncing Fleetwood Mac while chugging cranberry juice on a skateboard, go all-in on nascent curiosities rather than established talents.

As MLB’s 2021 season gets underway, there is little doubt that Fernando Tatis is That Guy.

You can see it in his endorsements: Tatis joined Derek Jeter and Bryce Harper as the only ballplayers as the sole focus of a national ad campaign from longtime MLB partner Gatorade. Just 21, he will be the youngest player to earn the coveted cover slot on MLB: The Show, the sport’s most wide-reaching video game.


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