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Trea Turner isn’t getting the recognition he deserves among baseball’s elite.
With the evolution of the game of baseball, we love players who show emotion and their personality on the field. Why wouldn’t you? Who doesn’t want to see Fernando Tatis or Ronald Acuña Jr. celebrating a clutch home run, or Juan Soto’s shuffle when he takes a pitch out of the zone?
While all three of those players deserve recognition, there’s one star in our nation’s capital who ought to receive a little more press outside of D.C.
His name is Trea Turner.
Turner debuted in 2015 as a contact hitter with speed to burn, but had a tough time receiving consistent playing time at short thanks to Ian Desmond. So the Nats tried him in centerfield, and the experiment did not go well.
Turner started 2016 in Triple-A and didn’t get called up until June. Then in 2017, he broke his wrist after being hit by a pitch. He didn’t exceed 100 games in either season and still managed to accumulate a 6.1 fWAR between the two campaigns.
Nationals: Trea Turner excelled in limited playing time
The biggest question about Turner was what kind of power he would provide over the course of a full season. Since then, he’s established consistent 20-25 home run power and made his case as one of the best pure contact hitters in the game.
After not posting a barrel rate above 6.8 percent from 2016 to 2019, he’s posted barrel rates of 9.5 and 9.3 percent since 2020. His hard contact rate has also seen a dramatic increase from 38.7 percent in 2018 all the way to 48.3 percent this season.
Right now his .409 wOBA is in the top six percent of the league, and even though he’s outperforming his xwOBA by a wide margin it’s still in the top 16 percent of the league which bodes well for him as the season continues.
Last season during a pandemic shortened 60-game season, he posted a 158 wRC+ which was higher than Corey Seager and Fernando Tatis. This season hasn’t been much different as he’s second among all shortstops with a 157 wRC+.
Turner doesn’t chase pitches at the rate you might think he would, even though he swings at nearly half the pitches he sees. Swinging that often does kill his walk rate, but since his strikeout rate only hovers around 19-20 percent you can live with it. In layman’s terms all Turner does is hit.
Turner’s also a pretty good defender, which is what sets him apart. Since he took over the everyday shortstop position, 2020 is the only season where he’s posted a negative DRS or a been outside the 73rd percentile in OAA.
Turner isn’t the flashiest player in the league, he simply shows up to the ballpark every day and does what you ask of him. As of Tuesday, he leads the National League with a 2.1 fWAR, and is on pace to be close to a six-win player, which according to Fangraphs is approaching MVP level.
Don’t sleep on Trea Turner.