Despite losing Corey Seager to the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Dodgers still have one of MLB’s best shortstops in Trea Turner.
Although Turner finished 2021 as a second baseman, he has been ranked by ESPN’s Buster Olney among the top 10 shortstops in baseball. Olney amassed his annual list by receiving input from evaluators and others around baseball.
Turner is expected to replace Seager as the Dodgers’ starting shortstop, which allowed him to be ranked as No. 3 on the list. Turner is only behind free agent Carlos Correa (No. 1) and San Diego Padres All-Star Fernando Tatis Jr.
Following Turner on the list is Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox), Seager, Tim Anderson (Chicago White Sox), Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants), Bo Bichette (Toronto Blue Jays), Francisco Lindor (New York Mets) and Wander Franco (Tampa Bay Rays).
Turner is coming off the best full-season of his career as he won the batting title and was named to the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career. In 148 games, he hit .328/.375/.536 with 28 home runs, 107 runs scored, 77 RBIs, 32 stolen bases, a 142 wRC+ and 6.9 WAR.
While Turner has always been a talented player, he broke out during the shortened 2020 season with a home run pace of close to 30 over a full campaign. His previous career high was 19 homers.
Turner continued his newly-found power output into 2021 and established himself as a true five-tool player and one of baseball’s best and most dynamic talents.
Despite being ranked third on the list, Turner outperformed the No. 1 player, Correa, in nearly every category. Turner led Correa in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, runs scored, stolen bases, wRC+ and WAR, while they both appeared in 148 games.
The only places Correa had an edge was RBI — as he hit in the middle of the order more often — and defensive value, while Turner spent around one-third of his season at a position he hasn’t played in years.
ESPN’s rankings consider projections going into this season, but Turner has outperformed Correa every season outside of 2017 and 2019, which coincides with the Astros sign-stealing scandal, and the players are only two years apart in age with both in their prime.
Turner also has a case to be ranked above Tatis, but it essentially comes down to preference between the extra offensive value the Padres’ shortstop provides or the extra defensive value of the Dodgers’ infielder.
Turner is a career .303/.358/.492 hitter with 103 home runs, 203 stolen bases, 485 runs scored, 334 RBIs, a 123 wRC+ and 24.1 WAR across 689 games played.
Turner did not bring up return to shortstop before Seager signed
Turner is a free agent after the 2022 season and will likely look to sign as a shortstop as 541 of his 689 games have come at that position.
The Dodgers wanted to keep Seager around to make him their long-term shortstop but they were unsuccessful, which likely means Turner will move back to his preferred position.
However, Turner did not approach the Dodgers about moving back to his natural position while they were negotiating with Seager.