Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Trea Turner entered last year as the Washington Nationals starting shortstop, looking to build upon his breakout 2020 season.
While Turner had been a good player from his first season in 2016 through 2019, 2020 saw him start to develop legit power while also hitting for a higher average.
In 59 games played, Turner batted .335/.394/.588 with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases, which put him on pace for a near 30-30 season after never hitting more than 19 homers in a single season.
It didn’t take long in 2021 for Turner to prove his breakout was no fluke as he hit six home runs in April while maintaining a batting average above .300.
In 96 games for the Nationals, Turner hit .322/.369/.521 with 18 homers, 21 stolen bases, a 136 wRC+ and a WAR of 4.2 that ranked third in baseball. With his performance, he earned his first All-Star Game selection.
Despite Turner becoming one of the best players in baseball, the Nationals kept falling out of the playoff race and decided to sell at the deadline. Although it would have made sense for the Nationals to build around him, along with Juan Soto, they made Turner available in trade talks.
On July 30, the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster deal to acquire Turner and Max Scherzer for Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz and two lower-level prospects. In one move, the Dodgers acquired an MVP candidate and three-time Cy Young Award winner.
The Dodgers expected Turner to provide a spark to their slumping and injured lineup. However, they moved him to second base, a position Turner had experience at but didn’t play for years.
In L.A., Turner somehow stepped his game up even more. He played 52 games for the Dodgers and hit .338/.385/.565 with a 153 wRC+, 10 home runs, 11 stolen bases and 2.6 WAR, which was mostly brought down by a dip in his defensive value.
Along with his elite hitting, Turner’s speed on the base paths, which is faster than anyone else in MLB according to Statcast, gave the Dodgers’ lineup some electricity that they’ve been lacking and was best highlighted when he scored from first base on an infield single.
Turner went into the final weeks of the regular season in a fight for the batting title with Soto but easily pulled away with his red-hot swing. He ended 2021 with a batting average nine points higher than the American League leader and 16 points higher than the second National League hitter.
In most seasons, Turner would have been an MVP favorite as he finished 2021 hitting .328/.375/.536 with 28 home runs, 107 runs scored, 77 RBIs, a 142 wRC+ and 6.9 WAR. However, the NL had five players who were worthy of consideration.
Once the postseason came around, Turner became a completely different player. In 51 at-bats, he hit just .216/.245/.255 with only two extra-base hits, both of which were doubles.
It continued a concerning trend of struggles in the postseason and while the sample is small compared to his full body of work, Turner badly needs a great playoff run to shake his current .228/.274/.287 slash line in 167 postseason at-bats.
Turner’s 2021 highlight
Turner’s highlight of the season came during the final series as he hit two grand slams in a three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers from Oct. 1-3.
Turner became the first Dodgers player with two grand slams in a three-game stretch since Mike Piazza accomplished the feat on April 9 and 10, 1998.
He also gave the Dodgers a new franchise record with 11 grand slams this season, which broke a tie with the 2004 team.
Turner is expected to move back to shortstop and become the Dodgers’ everyday starter there with the departure of Corey Seager to the Texas Rangers.
The Dodgers can expect him to continue his elite hitting, however, even if Turner regresses a bit, he is still an incredibly talented and exciting player.
This year is also the final season before Turner is eligible to reach free agency. Players like him don’t come around very often, so the Dodgers would be wise to sign him to a long-term contract before free agency begins.
Turner would likely be looking at a deal that gives him around $33 million or more annually.
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