Head Turner

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Trea Turner (LAD): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The Dodgers are sitting pretty at the top of the NL West with a 60-30 record heading into Sunday. They are 9.5 games ahead of the second-place Padres, and a big reason for that has been due to the consistency of Trea Turner.

Turner certainly turned heads last year when he was traded from the Nationals to the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline.

In 52 games and 226 plate appearances, he hit .338 with a .950 OPS which included 10 home runs, 41 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases on 13 attempts. Safe to say, after an overall year where he hit .328 with 28 home runs, 107 runs scored, and 32 stolen bases, the 29-year-old was one of the most coveted players in Fantasy Baseball drafts going into 2022.

This year, Turner is pretty much posting the same banner numbers in his first full season in Hollywood. The OPS is down a bit, going from .911 in 2021 to .847 so far this year. However, everything else has pretty much remained close to what he has done since breaking out in 2019 in Washington.

In 90 games and 348 plate appearances, Turner is hitting .306 with 14 home runs, 54 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts. He has also been an RBI machine this year, as his 68 RBI is only nine fewer than he had in 148 games last season. It is possible that he could be a 100+ RBI guy by the end of 2022, which would only inflate his value in leagues that utilize traditional five-by-five categories.

On Saturday, against a freefalling Angels team in Anaheim, Turner had the typical solid game, as he not only hit two home runs but also scored two runs and drove in three RBI as well.

The big issue for Turner, and fantasy managers who roster him in keeper and dynasty leagues, is where will Turner play in 2023?

The Dodgers and Turner were unable to come to an extension this past offseason, and he is in the last year of arbitration before becoming a free agent after this season. Los Angeles’ payroll is already pretty high at $257 million, and Turner isn’t the lone free agent to worry about.

Clayton Kershaw will be a free agent as well after this year (though it’s highly likely he will retire), and Cody Bellinger and Julio Urías will be free agents after 2023. And that’s not including the possibility to bring over Juan Soto in a “mega-trade” this year or this offseason, as Soto recently turned down a $440-million offer from the Nationals to stay in DC.

Turner thrives in this Dodgers lineup and could do so for a long-time, especially with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman established on long-term deals. But will Turner still excel as a fantasy player in a different city? That is up for debate, especially with a 19.3 percent K rate which is 2.3 percent higher than a year ago.

Wherever Turner signs long-term, the fact of the matter is that Turner is a major piece of this Dodgers team, who have hopes of winning another World Series after losing to the Dodgers in the NLCS last year.

Expect him to continue to turn heads, not just against opposing MLB teams, but in fantasy leagues as well after the All-Star break.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

Matt Carpenter (NYY): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, BB.

The “Matt Carpenter Revitalization” tour continued in the Bronx on Saturday, as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 14-1. Carpenter had another eye-popping statistical day, as he not only hit two home runs but also drove in seven RBI in the Yankees’ blowout victory. For the year, Carpenter is hitting .360 with an OPS of 1.406, which includes 13 home runs in 92 plate appearances. At 36 years old, none of this seems sustainable, and yet Carpenter continues to hit dingers at a frequent rate, especially against Boston.

 

Aaron Judge (NYY): 3-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Judge continues to keep up his incredible home run pace, as he hit his 32nd and 33rd home runs of the year on Saturday. According to ZiPS projections, the Yankees outfielder is projected to hit 52 home runs, which would be the most in the American League since Judge hit 52 in 2017. Since 2010, only three hitters in the American League have touched the 50+ home run mark in a single season: Judge in 2017; Chris Davis in 2013; and José Bautista in 2010. Additionally, no AL hitter has touched the 60-home run mark since 1961, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s record. Could Judge make a run at 60? It looked more realistic a couple of weeks ago, but a hot start after the All-Star break could help make that benchmark a reality.

 

José Ramírez (CLE): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

Ramírez continues to be one of the most underrated star players in the league, mostly due to the fact he plays in Cleveland. Ramírez has two home runs and five RBI in the Guardians’ 10-0 victory over the Tigers on Saturday, and the numbers for the year continue to be stellar. In 375 plate appearances, Ramírez is hitting .288 with a .944 OPS and has 19 home runs, 75 RBI, and 13 stolen bases to boot. He continues to NOT miss at the plate, as he ranks in the 99th percentile in K rate and 98th percentile in whiff rate. Ramírez agreed to a seven-year extension in April, so he’ll be in Cleveland for a while, which may be a good thing for fantasy managers who continue to acquire him lower in drafts than they should, just because he plays in such a smaller market and gets overlooked in the MVP race year after year.

 

Lars Nootbaar (STL): 1-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Nootbar hasn’t been quite as hot this year in comparison to last season when he was called up and hit .318 with a .979 OPS in 44 plate appearances in August. He’s only hitting .200 with a .655 OPS, and he’s probably destined to be sent down again once Harrison Bader returns off the IL. Nootbar did hit a home run though in St. Louis’ 11-3 win over Cincinnati, so at the very least he’s building on some positive momentum before his eventual return to Triple-A Memphis.

 

Didi Gregorius (PHI): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI.

All the hype on Saturday going into the Marlins-Phillies game was on Max Meyer, the 3rd overall pick in 2020 who was set to make his MLB debut. Unfortunately, though, it was the Phillies who had the last laugh, as they tagged Meyer for five runs on seven hits in a 10-0 blowout in Miami. Gregorious was one of the main culprits for spoiling Meyer’s debut, as he had two hits, which included a home run, and four RBI for the Phillies. Gregorious is only hitting .240 this year with a .660 OPS, so he’s not a great fantasy option by any means, though his position versatility can make him a good emergency option off the waiver wire for a small period of time.

 

Eduardo Escobar (NYM): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

The Mets swept the doubleheader against the Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field, much to the chagrin of the North Side faithful. In game two, Escobar pretty much willed the Mets to victory, as he not only hit a home run but was the only New York hitter to have multiple hits in the evening contest. Escobar has been a bit of a disappointment this year for Mets fans and fantasy managers alike. He is hitting only .223 with an OPS of .675, and basically is regulated to the bottom of the Mets batting order. It is his first year in New York after all, so hopefully, this strong game can help him rebound in the second half.

 

Jorge Polanco (MIN): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

It’s hard to really get a “feel” on what Polanco has been this year for fantasy managers. On one end, he is posting a .788 OPS in 320 plate appearances, and he also has 14 home runs, including one on Saturday against the White Sox. And yet, he is only hitting .246, and it feels like we’re not hearing Polanco’s name much on a daily basis, which is strange for a team in first place in the AL Central. Is Polanco just being overlooked? Is he underachieving? Is he due for a hot streak soon, if he stays healthy? I guess fantasy managers will have to find out after the All-Star break.

 

Michael Harris II (ATL): 2-3, 2B, R, BB, 3 SB.

Another game, and another impressive Harris performance. The Atlanta rookie collected two hits and THREE stolen bases against the Nationals on Saturday as he adds to an already productive rookie campaign thus far in 2022. Over 47 games and 178 plate appearances, Harris is hitting .284 for the year with an OPS of .823. He also has eight home runs and 10 stolen bases on 10 attempts, which showcases Harris’ tremendous power and speed potential, especially at 21 years old. Granted, Harris has serious strikeout issues, as he is posting a 24.2 percent K rate to only a 3.9 percent BB rate. But as long as he stays hot, Harris is worth keeping around for fantasy managers, even if the wall is going to hit him at some point.

 

Vinnie Pasquantino (KC): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

The “Italian Nightmare” (or “Italian Breakfast” depending on who you ask) nearly had another game-winning moment, as he hit a two-run home run off of Jordan Romano in the top of the 10th inning to give the Royals a two-run lead at the time. Unfortunately, Joel Payamps couldn’t hold the lead, and Kansas City ended up losing 6-5, robbing Pasquantino of his “heroic” moment. There will be plenty more for Pasquantino, even if the average and OPS are paltry at .206 and .669, respectively. His max exit velocity ranks in the 88th percentile, and his K rate is only 15.2 percent while his walk rate is 11.4 percent. In addition, his xwOBA is 126 points higher than his actual wOBA, which shows that he’s been a victim of some rough batted ball luck so far this year. Fantasy managers need to keep their faith in Pasquantino. A correction could be looming (and in a big way) after the All-Star break.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

2 responses to “Head Turner”

  1. BB says:

    How much positional versatility does Didi really offer when he’s played nothing but SS for the past eight years?

    • Kevin O'Brien says:

      I guess I meant that shortstop can always be iffy when it comes to finding offensive production. Maybe position versatility isn’t the right word, but I also think if you are having issues at a SS or MI slot with injury, Gregorious could be a good temp option.

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