WASHINGTON — Nationals shortstop Trea Turner is garnering some early accolades ahead of the 2017 season.
MLB Network unveiled its “Top 10 Shortstops Right Now” Sunday night and ranked the 23-year-old the fourth-best player at his position, a notable honor for Turner as he heads into his first full Major League season despite having played only two games at short last season.
“After an initial struggle in his first season, Turner looked like another Nationals superstar in 2016,” said MLB Network’s Brian Kenny in the accompanying highlight package.
“A natural shortstop, he played second base and center field for Washington because that’s where they needed him,” Kenny said. “Instead of struggling in the adjustment, he went out and scorched National League pitching, hitting .342, had a .370 on-base, and .567 slugging percentage.”
“Going into his age 24 season, Turner will take over full time at shortstop this year,” he said. “Check out the stratospheric numbers. Now among those with at least 300 plate appearances, he was top-10 in slugging and tied for 10th in overall hitting. Oh, by the way, he has tremendous speed, stealing 33 bases in just 73 games.”
Fellow MLB Network analyst Billy Ripken didn’t rate Turner so highly, though he noted Turner’s lack of service time swayed his opinion.
“Look. I like this guy. I didn’t put him up as high on the list. He did make my list,” Ripken said. “There’s two things I want to talk about: 1) Out of respect of other guys that have played the game a little bit longer, and played the position of short a little bit longer, I put him behind those guys.”
“But his offensive numbers, and what he proved to me, what he did in the batter’s box was very impressive,” he said. “The fact that he played shortstop at college in NC State, the fact that he was a shortstop in the minor leagues, I’m gonna go ahead and say okay, you’re a shortstop.”
In what FanGraphs dubs “A Golden Age of Shortstops,” MLB Network ranked Turner fourth behind three other shortstops all aged 23 or younger — Carlos Correa of the Astros (3rd), Francisco Lindor of the Indians (2nd) and Corey Seager of the Dodgers (1st) — and just ahead 30-year-old Brandon Crawford of the Giants (5th).
Out of the entire Top 10, eight of the shortstops are 26 years old or younger.
The Top 10:
1. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
3. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
4. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
5. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
6. Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
7. Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals
8. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
9. Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays
10. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs
Mike Petriello ranked Turner seventh in a similar list on MLB.com.