Draft Day Decision: Is Trea Turner Worthy Of A 1st Round Pick In 2018?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Entering 2017 there was a lot of hype surrounding the Nationals’ Trea Turner, with many viewing him as a late first round selection despite having only 347 AB in the Majors.  A year later it’s interesting that we are almost in the same situation, as injuries limited him to 98 games.  Sure we have basically a full season of data (759 AB), but it’s spread over three seasons so it’s hard to draw decisive conclusions.

That said 412 AB in 2017 isn’t a small sample size, so let’s take a look at the numbers:

412 At Bats
.284 Batting Average (117 Hits)
11 Home Runs
45 RBI
75 Runs
46 Stolen Bases
.338 On Base Percentage
.451 Slugging Percentage
.329 Batting Average on Balls in Play

They are impressive, especially when you extrapolate them out.  The question is, are they first round worthy?  Let’s take a look:

His biggest asset is obviously his speed, and he’s now stolen 81 bases over his 815 PA.  That equates to a SB every 10 PA, so if you want to expect 650 PA (which may be low hitting atop a batting order) you would put him at roughly 65 SB for the season if he could keep up that pace.  Obviously the wear and tear of a season could cause him to slow down, but you are looking at a floor of 50 SB.

How many players reached that type of level last season?  Just two:

  • Dee Gordon – 60
  • Billy Hamilton – 59

While there were more players who reached 40 SB in 2016, there were still just two who reached 50+ (Hamilton was joined by Jonathan Villar).  That alone is going to put Turner’s value at a premium, and that would be if he didn’t produce any additional value.

Hitting atop a Nationals lineup that is going to score runs, and they scored the fifth most runs last season, Turner should be looking at 95+ runs scored over a full season.  In fact it would almost be surprising if he didn’t reach 100.

So that’s two highly impressive skills, and he’s also proven that he’s not your prototypical speed only option.  That’s not to say that we’re talking about a 30+ HR threat, but he’s proven capable of hitting 15+ HR over a full season (and that’s also going to lead to a respectable RBI total, even hitting leadoff).

You could argue that there are concerns with his batting average, considering a 14.8% line drive rate and .329 BABIP.  Of course he posted a 25.2% line drive rate in ’16 and has elite speed.  There is going to be concern that opposing pitchers start feeding him a steady diet of offspeed pitches (21.20% Whiff% on offspeed pitches), but even a few more strikeouts isn’t going to derail him.  He has the potential to carry an even higher BABIP, and that will offset any regression.

Is there some risk?  Absolutely, especially in the average, but he also has the upside of a five category superstar.  He may not be a locked in first round selection, but considering the shortage of speed around the game he belongs in the discussion and would be a well justified selection after the top names are off the board.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections:

Date Published
Cano, Robinson10/09/17
Castillo, Luis10/03/17
Gerrit Cole10/30/17
Didi Gregorius11/20/17
Wil Myers10/24/17
Quintana, Jose11/13/17
Sanchez, Aaron12/05/17
Schoop, Jonathan11/27/17
Stroman, Marcus10/16/17
Walker, Taijuan 11/06/17

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