If I Could Turn(er) Back Time

Daniel Port covers all of Sunday's most interesting hitters.

You better believe we’re closing out the season with a Cher reference. Mad respect to the O.G. Queen. In all seriousness though, when it comes to Trea Turner I do wish I could turn back time to the beginning of the year. I was one of the many who could not see him as a true first-rounder but boy, oh boy, was I wrong. He ended the season in style yesterday and after hitting his 12th home run to go along with seven RBI, Turner sits in third across all players in ESPN’s player rater behind Shane Bieber and Fernando Tatis Jr. thanks to a .335/.394/.579 slash line that includes 44 runs, 34 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. That is the equivalent of a 30 HR/118 Runs/91 RBI/30 SB pace in a full 162-game season, which easily translates to a guy we have to draft in the top five next season. I’m as surprised as anyone.

The most shocking part of his 2020 output has to be the power. The truly interesting thing about it is that at first, I couldn’t really pinpoint where it came from. He’s always hit the ball hard and for the second consecutive season, he managed an average exit velocity over 90 MPH. On the other hand, his launch angle actually dropped. He didn’t really hit a lot more flyballs, nor did we see a huge bump up in HR/FB. So what changed? His approach did. For most of his young career, Turner has primarily been a pull hitter but that changed in 2020. This year he shifted to an all-fields approach as he raised his OPPO% by 6% to 30.9% and his Cent%  by 4.9% to 37.6%. Why is this important?

Trea Turner Batted Ball

At a glance, it becomes clear that this season Turner unlocked his power by going the other way with the ball. In fact, he has a career 21.5° launch angle when he goes the opposite way and 13 of his 27 extra-base hits in 2020 went the other way. If he continues with this approach in 2021, we could be seeing a superstar and a top-five pick being born. If nothing else, I certainly won’t be making the same mistake of betting against Turner being a first-rounder in 2021.

Let’s take a look at how the other hitters finished out the year:

Carlos Santana (1B, CLE) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, BB. It was exciting to see the Axe-Man finish the season strong but he’s mostly had a weird season. His average was abysmal yet he still managed to walk as often as he struck out and get on base at a .349 clip. The power was disappointingly absent as Santana got off to yet another slow start. Yet despite all that, almost all of his numbers are the same as last year. With that in mind, I expect at least some form of a rebound in 2021 I just don’t know for what team as I’ll be surprised if the Indians accept his option for next year.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, TOR) – 4-4, 3 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. You can’t ask for a better way to end the season then Gurriel did for the playoff-bound Blue Jays going 4-for-4 with a home run and two doubles. Gurriel followed up his breakout 2019 season by getting even better this year in almost every measurable way. He saw improvement in his plate discipline while hitting the ball harder and barreling it more often. He raised his AVG by over 20 points—without losing any power, either. I predict 2021 is the real Gurriel coming out party and he’ll hit between .280 and .300 while hitting close to 30 home runs as well.

Pete Alonso (1B, NYM) – 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Alonso finished the year on one heck of a high note with two home runs in Sunday’s finale which gives him three over the past two days and 16 on the year. His three hits overall give him 10 in the last six games and raised his average to .231 on the year. Like I said yesterday, Alonso is going to produce in every category but AVG next year so while I expect his ADP to drop a bunch I wouldn’t dismiss him if you can stomach it because he’s proven he has the power to be an annual 40+ HR guy. In my head, I think I’m treating him the same way we did Khris Davis a few years ago. I won’t take him before the 4th or 5th round but if he’s there I will snag him and joyfully watch the dingers fly.

AJ Pollock (OF, LAD) – 3-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. We say every year that a healthy AJ Pollock is still really good but he took it to a whole new level after hitting his 15th and 16th home runs on Sunday. He’s set career highs this year in HR/FB%, BBL%, and HardHit% while hitting dingers at a 40+ home run pace. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see this coming and it will be fascinating to see where he goes in drafts in 2020. He’ll still have the same injury concerns but after this season’s performance I would be surprised to see it settle somewhere in the 150s and that’s where I’ll be looking to draft him as well I think.

Billy Hamilton (OF, CHC) – 2-5, 4 R, HR, RBI, BB, 3 SB. I felt I had to include this one with how rare a Billy Hamilton home run is. While it’s not particularly fantasy relevant, it’s cool to see Hamilton finally being used correctly as an elite PR.

Jazz Chisholm (SS, MIA) – 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Chisholm has struggled so far this year but it’s always tough on rookies when they first come up so it’s nice to see the extra-base hits in this one. We’ll have a better idea of what to expect from Chisholm next year once he gets the offseason under his belt, makes adjustments, and we get to see him in Spring Training but he’ll be a guy to keep an eye on.

Adalberto Mondesi (SS, KC) – 3-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. If there’s one player who is upset to see the season end now, it’s Mondesi. He ended the season on a seven-game hitting streak which included 15 hits, two home runs, four doubles, two triples and five stolen bases. This is perhaps the best encapsulation of who Mondesi is. He is going to have stretches where he absolutely wins you weeks or looks like one of the best players in baseball and then he’ll have stretches where he can barely get on base thanks to his approach. That’s okay if you’re aware of what you’re getting into when you draft him. Like I said yesterday, I’ll probably be avoiding him in a lot of drafts but I totally get going after the stolen bases—I just wouldn’t do it in the top 75 players or so.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS) – 3-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. One of the few bright spots for the Red Sox, Bradley hit his seventh home run of the season on Sunday. Add in a .283 average and five stolen bases and Bradley has put together a nice season for himself and on our radars for next season. Could he be a 15/15 guy again? It’s certainly possible and worth further investigating for the last round draft pick or so.

Ketel Marte (2B, ARI) – 2-3, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. For the life of me, I can’t figure out where the power went this year for Marte. Everything is nearly identical this season to last year except he’s not barreling the ball the way he did last year and he’s walking way less. He’s also hitting the ball to centerfield way more often. It honestly kinda reminds me of what José Ramírez was going through last year, where his timing was all out of wack and he wasn’t seeing the ball as well so he wasn’t able to pull the ball the way he wanted to, but I’m not entirely sure yet. Either way, while I might knock Marte down a round or two because of this season I’m keeping the faith that he’ll rebound next year.

Wil Myers (OF, SD) – 2-7, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Figuring out where we draft Wil Myers next year is going to be a fascinating puzzle. It’s entirely possible that this season was an anomaly but if it is, it’s one heck of an anomaly. Almost every measure improved for Myers and the underlying numbers support his career year as being pretty legitimate. After going undrafted for the most part this season, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him go in the single-digit rounds next year since the prospect of a potential .280, 30 HR, double-digit SB season is pretty tantalizing. I’m hesitant to go that far but I totally get it and would be all over it once you get to round 10.

Yasmani Grandal (C, CHW) – 2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Outside of his K%, Grandal pretty much had a standard Grandal season. I suspect the huge strikeout jump (nearly 30.0 K%) might be more of a product of facing pitchers he hadn’t seen before, adjusting to a new team, and having to face the Indians staff 10 times this season. I’d approach drafting Grandal the exact same way next season as we did heading into drafts this year.

Franmil Reyes (DH, CLE) – 1-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. Nice to see Reyes end things on a high note after kinda floundering over the last month or so. I think that’s going to kinda be the book on Reyes. He’s the home run version of Mondesi in a lot of ways where he is going to be very dependent on hot streaks throughout the year. I still believe he’s going to surpass 40 HRs in a season sooner rather than later and we saw improvement in his walk rate to 10.0% which is really encouraging for a young, developing hitter.

(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Daniel Port

Daniel is a Fantasy Baseball writer, Brewer, and Theatrical Technician, located in Denver, Colorado. A lifelong fan of baseball and the Cleveland Indians since before Albert Belle tried to murder Fernando Vina, he used to tell his Mom he loved her using Sammy Sosa's home run salute, has a perfectly reasonable amount of love for Joey Votto and believes everything in life should be announced using bat flips. If you want to talk baseball, beer, or really anything at all you can find him on twitter at @DanielJPort !

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