Trea Turner was one of Major League Baseball’s most sought-after free agents over the offseason. He and Aaron Judge were the two guys expected to command the most money. And that held true, as Turner landed an 11-year, $300 million contract from the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s safe to say that since signing it, the former All-Star has struggled.
The 30-year-old shortstop hit MLB’s midseason pause with numbers that are … not great! He’s hitting .247 with an on-base percentage of .299, while slugging .389. He has 10 home runs, 32 RBIs, 95 strikeouts against 25 walks and an OPS of .687. That’s not the player the Phillies thought they were getting when they signed him this winter.
And this isn’t just an example of a slow start, as his OPS by month has told a consistent story. In April it was .657, it dropped to .625 in May, took a bump up to .767 in June, and is back down to .679 so far in July.
In 2022 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Turner slashed .298/.343/.466 with 21 home runs and 100 RBIs. So we’re looking at a 51-point drop in batting average. a 44-point drop in OBP and a 77-point drop in slugging. And those numbers are off his 2021 stats when he slashed .328/.375/.536, and the shortened 2020 season when he posted a .335/.394/.588 line. In three-plus seasons his OPS has plummeted from .982 to .687, while his wRC+ has gone from 159 to 84. A look inside the numbers provides some context as to why.
Turner’s strikeout rate is at a career-high for a full season. He’s striking out in 24.1 percent of his plate appearances, which is a significant shift from 2022 (18.5 percent) and way off his career-low of 13.9 percent in 2020. His flyball rate is also way up to 41.4 percent. His previous career-high of 35.7 came last season. His average launch angle had never been higher than 11.4 and was 10.2 in 2022, it has jumped to 15.0 this season. That means he’s upper-cutting on the ball more than he ever has.
In case you’re wondering if there’s some bad luck attached to those numbers, it doesn’t seem so. His weighted on-base percentage is .299 while his expected wOBA is .309. That’s not a big difference. His wOBA is a career-low for a full season and is down from .413 in 2020, .386 in 2021 and .350 in 2022.
Turner’s Statcast chart doesn’t look much more encouraging. He ranks in the 35th percentile in barrel percentage, 46th in hard hit percentage, 22nd in whiff percentage, 54th in average exit velocity and max exit velocity, 33rd in xwOBA, 43rd in expected slugging and 56th in expected batting average. Those are all bad numbers for a guy of his caliber. Compare his charts from 2023 and 2022 below.
To be fair, Turner could just be having a bad half of baseball. Plenty of players had abnormally low numbers in the first half. He’s in a new city, with new teammates and dealing with new rules to speed up at-bats. Any of those factors could throw things off for a hitter. That June bump in his OPS could be the start of a positive trend. Or it could be the new normal. Time will tell.
Turner has a lengthy track record of success, so you’d assume he’ll turn things around eventually. That said, his three-year trend is not positive, so it’s unclear if this is who he is now ,or if it’s just a blip on the radar.