Trea Turner admits he’s ‘sucked’ in first few months of 11-year deal with fourth-place Phillies
When the reigning National League-champion Philadelphia Phillies inked shortstop Trea Turner to an 11-year, $300 million free-agent pact this past offseason, the assumption was that they were adding one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball to the top of the lineup.
While there’s plenty of time for that still to be the case, Turner has struggled by his own recent standards thus far in his Phillies tenure. This fact isn’t lost on Turner himself, who recently said this about his performance to date in 2023 (via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki):
“I’m honest with myself, I’ve sucked. But every at-bat, every play, every game is another day to try to do better and try to be the player that I know I am. If you harp on yesterday or you harp on the last at-bat, it’s just going to snowball on you, you’re not going to be able to turn it around. So I’m honest with myself. I tell myself straight, and I don’t lie to myself. I think I’m a positive guy. I think I can always do better and can always be better. That’s the attitude I have, but at the same time, I know when I don’t do something right.”
“I’ve sucked” is perhaps a bit too strong of a characterizations. Turner enters Tuesday night’s home game against the Diamondbacks with a slash line of .256/.303/.390 in this, his age-30 campaign. That comes to an OPS+, or park- and league-adjusted OPS, of 91, which means his production has been 9% shy of the league-average. That’s hardly disastrous for someone who mans the premium position of shortstop, but it’s not in keeping with Turner’s standards or with the expectations that flow from a $300 million pact.
Speaking of which, Turner, a two-time All-Star coming into this season had a career OPS+ of 122, or a park-adjusted OPS that was 22% better than the league average. From 2019, when Turner broke out in the power department, through the 2022 season, that OPS+ figure was 132. That’s the kind of player the Phillies need if they’re going to make it back to the postseason.
While Turner at some point figures to find his level, his quality of contact numbers thus far in 2023 raise some concerns. Throw out his pre-rookie season of 2015, when he logged just 44 plate appearances, and Turner this season has posted career-worst marks in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and strikeout percentage. Turner’s batted-ball and contact indicators thus far give him an expected batting average of just .237 and an expected slugging percentage of just .352. If anything, you can argue Turner has been a bit lucky thus far.
Whatever’s causing those dips, improvement at that fundamental level needs to happen before Turner can give the Phillies what they need from him at the top of the lineup.