Trea Turner 2020 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
Summary: Speed demon on verge of elite contributions has question marks about 2020 role.
How Turner helps you: Whether you’re in a roto, head-to-head, or points, Turner’s speed can be the foundation of your stolen base production. He will steal at least 40 bags if healthy for a full season, but the ceiling could be more like 50. In just 122 games last season, he swiped 35. This is elite speed in a modern game where stolen bases are become more and more scarce.
What’s best about Turner is that you don’t have to buy only his steals. Many sources of speed are specialists (Mallex Smith, Elvis Andrus) who can sap most of your other categories. Turner is a .300+ hitter if he takes a teensy bit forward (.298 BA in 2019). He also has some pop, putting 19 homers into the seats last season in just 521 AB. He’ll score plenty of runs, easily over a 100 if he plays more than 135 games.
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Essentially, if you extrapolate Turner’s line from 2019 to a 155-game season, that’s approximately .300/ 25 HR / 45 SB / 125 R. That is a first round, elite line that — without the RBI — almost equals that of Ronald Acuna.
How Turner Hurts You: Right now, Turner hasn’t knocked in a lot of runs. He only tallied 57 RBI in 2019, a full season pace of 73. That’s certainly nitpicking on Turner’s contributions. And while neither his on-base percentage or slugging are below average, he owned the second lowest OPS of anyone with a Fantrax ADP of less than 40 (850).
Intangibles / Analytics: Trea Turner’s 2020 fantasy outlook has one major question mark: Where will he hit? Early in Spring Training, the Nationals will need to adjust for the loss of Anthony Rendon, who departed for the Angels. There is talk that Turner will shift to the three hole, and Victor Robles will graduate to the leadoff spot.
This is a huge development.
If Turner hits third instead of leading off, his stolen base numbers will likely fall off. He’s too fast not to steal at least 25-30, even batting third. But with Juan Soto hitting behind him, it’s not likely Dave Martinez wants to run himself out of innings. However, this would balance Trea’s elite stolen base total with his weak RBI production. If he hits behind Robles and Adam Eaton, there should be plenty of ducks on the pond all season. And while he may not score as many runs hitting third, his home run total could spike, as he would be protected by Han, er, Juan Soto, and might see more juicy pitches.
As for Turner’s metrics, one thing to keep an eye on are his BB and K percentages. His walk percentage dropped (9.3% in 2018 to 7.6% in 2019) while his K-rate increased (17.8% to 19.9%). This is likely just pitchers adjusting after his first full season. The good news is, his soft contact dropped (from 18.7% to 17.1%) while his hard contact jumped considerably (31.5% to 37.8%). Turner will turn 27 in June, so he’s still learning the tricks of the trade and it’s somewhat scary to think what his numbers could be when he’s at his peak.
In case you’re wondering about why he only played 122 games, Trea broke his finger early in April of last season. Not to worry, he played 72 games after the All-Star break. The shortstop had surgery to repair the finger in November (once the partying ceased from the Nationals’ World Series title), so there’s no reason to believe he’s anything but healthy entering the 2020 season.
Where to Draft Him: With so much talent in the league right now, it’s no wonder Trea Turner is sitting about 13 or 14. He’s a five tool talent that’s on the rise, and he promises to deliver a scarce stat in spades. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to draft him over some perennial stalwarts like Freddie Freeman or J.D. Martinez as their output is practically in the bank.
Dynasty and Redraft Comparison: You know that last sentence about Freeman or Martinez? Well, disregard that if you’re drafting for dynasty. I put Turner higher in dynasty formats, possibly as high as 11 or 12. I’d draft him over Martinez or Freeman, and maybe even Nolan Arenado who might be traded out of Colorado.