2022 Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight: Is Trea Turner Living Up to His #1 Overall Draft Position?
Published: Jun 10, 2022
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
In this week’s edition of the Fantasy Alarm Player Spotlight Series on shortstops, we will turn our attention to Trea Turner. Turner was part of the biggest headline of Thursday’s Major League Baseball slate when he was curiously and intentionally walked with a 1-2 count and first base open. The Chicago White Sox preferred to have their lefty pitcher face left-handed batter Max Muncy. What happened next could have been predicted by everyone in the building. Muncy homered and the collective fantasy baseball world ridiculed Tony LaRussa relentlessly for the decision.
Intentionally walking batters with two strikes is something we have seen for a player like Barry Bonds in the past. Is Trea Turner really that dangerous this season? He was the number one overall player in average draft position and in fantasy baseball rankings this offseason. Besides the intentional walk Thursday, how is Turner faring this year?
Trea Turner Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight
In the average draft position reports for FantasyAlarm, FantasyPros, and NFC leagues, Trea Turner ended the offseason as the number one player in almost every draft. His 2021 season produced a .328/.375/.536 slash line with 28 home runs, 32 stolen bases, and 107 runs despite a midseason trade that sent him from the Washington Nationals to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That kind of five-category goodness propelled Turner to the top of 2022 drafts, especially now that he would have a full season batting in the heart of the 2022 version of the Murderer’s Row lineup. Since joining the Dodgers, the hits keep on coming and he has already secured in place in Dodgers’ history.
After a 1-for-4 Thursday with a walk, a run scored, an RBI, and a stolen base, Turner’s 2022 line sits at .302/.358/.477 with seven home runs, 29 runs, 46 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. The slash line is mildly disappointing compared to last year, but the counting stats are on incredible paces.
At these per-game rates, Turner would hit 20 home runs, score 84 runs, knock in 131 runs, and steal 37 bases in a 162-game season. This season, no other player can match Turner’s production across all those categories. To find the player closest to him with at least 10 steals, we have to lower the thresholds to a .275 average and 25 RBI before we find Julio Rodríguez and his .275 average with seven bombs, 26 runs, 26 RBI, and 17 stolen bases. Even MVP candidate José Ramírez is “only” hitting .285 with 14 home runs, 34 runs, 54 RBI, and nine steals.
It’s unlikely Turner will lead the majors in any of those five categories, but he is near the top of all of those leaderboards except in home runs.
Will the Five-Category Dominance Continue?
To state that Trea Turner is an elite hitter is not going to surprise anyone at this stage. But what we must determine is will this unparalleled success continue? Should we ride the success with Turner or look to sell high while he is on his current hot streak?
Here are Turner’s Statcast rankings and Hit Spray chart courtesy of Baseball Savant.
Everything checks out here. Turner’s batted ball profile is still elite, and while it might be nice if he took more walks, that is finding the smallest nit to pick. His sprint speed is clearly among the best in the game so the steals should be sustainable. He is hitting the ball to all fields, so this isn’t a situation where Turner is relying on his bat and swing to pull the balls down the left-field line.
Turner’s strikeouts have ticked up slightly from the last two years, but he is still under 20% or essentially half that of someone like Joey Gallo. His walk rate is the highest he has produced in a full season since 2018 and he has even cut three percentage points off his groundball rate since last season. His .351 batting average on balls in play is right in line with his career rate of .345. It all checks out for Turner.
In the final analysis, we can’t be anything but thrilled with what Turner is producing this year. He is proving worthy of the number one pick, even if his average is closer to .300 than .330.
And if he ends with a .300 average, 20 homers, 90 runs, 120 RBI, and 35 stolen bases? He will be just the second shortstop in history (joining Alex Rodriguez in 1998) to reach each of those numbers. That’s what you call worthy of the top pick.
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