Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner was on a collision course to log the first 200-hit season of his eight-year career. But it all came crashing down faster than anyone could’ve imagined. What happened?
If you look closer, Turner’s play actually began to slip in August. He finished that month with a .298 average and .758 OPS in 28 games. Then September got really ugly. Over the last 30 games, Turner slashed .252/.298/.382 with two homers and 11 RBI.
Heading into August, Turner registered 127 hits. He needed just 73 for 200. Easier said than done, obviously, but how much of a better position could he have possibly put himself in? Since Aug. 1, Turner’s had 14 games in which he failed to record a hit. From April-July, he had just … 14.
The slips have been noticeable, even in the advanced metrics department. Turner ranks in the 49th percentile for Average Exit Velocity, the 47th percentile in Barrel Percentage, the 39th percentile in Whiff Percentage, the 24th percentile in Walk Percentage, and the 21st percentile in Chase Rate.
Not only that, but his defense has taken a hit. He’s made seven of his 16 errors on the year over the last two months. Some have questioned if Corey Seager is a better/more reliable defender than Turner is! Turner ranks in the 49th percentile in Outs Above Average. He’s been good for -1 Defensive Runs Saved and a weak -1.2 UZR/150 … but a 1.0 dWAR? OK, we’ll take that.
What’s happened to Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner at the end of 2022?
That 1.0 dWAR is a positive. The fact he ranks third among all MLB shortstops in WAR is a positive. He has a career-high 97 RBI! He could still match his career-high in hits (195 set last year). He leads the league with 704 plate appearances. The guy is durable! And he’s stolen 27 bags and scored 100 runs. The NL All-Star team’s starter at shortstop is still a great player.
But there is one problem. Turner disappeared in the postseason last year when the Dodgers needed him most and they were bounced by the Braves. He’s now fallen off a cliff down the stretch as the Dodgers await the NLDS amid one of their coldest streaks of the year (7-7 in their last 14 games).
It was never a foregone conclusion that Turner would return to the Dodgers, but now is it possible the team might be re-thinking investing north of $200 million in the 29-year-old when he hits free agency in a few weeks?
Droughts happen. It’s baseball. The nature of the game. It was a different story last year when Turner tore the cover off the ball in the final month of the season, hitting .353 with a 1.044 OPS in his final 29 games.
But if Turner now vanishes for a second straight postseason? It might change the tenor. Yes, the Dodgers reportedly offered Seager $300 million (with deferrals) to stay, but he was a homegrown talent who very much propelled the team to its first World Series victory in 32 years.
Turner, though not easily replaceable, was a trade acquisition, and there are plenty of other fellow shortstops known for their clutch bats (Dansby Swanson, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts) hitting the open market alongside the speedster.
All we’re saying is that the Dodgers have no reason to be tied down to Turner, and if he makes the decision easier, the slugger going to an East Coast team this winter may not be the sensational storyline it once was.