Let’s face it, for fantasy baseball purposes, in general, you don’t want players to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers.
They’ve won at greater than a .650 clip — that’s 105-plus wins on a per-162 game basis — in each of the last four seasons. They’ve averaged more than five runs scored per game in each of the last five seasons. They haven’t played a meaningless (read: eliminated from playoff contention) game since 2012! They provide about as beneficial a supporting cast on offense as a player can have.
And yet, when considering Trea Turner’s departure from Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Phillies represent one of the few landing spots where there’s minimal reason to worry, fantasy-wise. Certainly there are debates to be had about the length of the deal, as 11 years takes him through the 2033, and his age-40, season, which is a concern for a player who derives a good chunk of his value from stolen bases, but the foreseeable future remains right for this fantasy baseball superstar.
Turner takes over as either the No. 1 or 2 hitter for the Phillies, depending upon whether the team prefers to use him or Kyle Schwarber at leadoff, and that decision will inevitably kick off the tired « clogging up the base paths » and « splitting up the lefties » (Schwarber and Bryce Harper) lineup-construction debates. Chances are, Turner will most often be the table-setter in Philadelphia, which wasn’t always the case in Los Angeles, where he batted leadoff only 95 times, compared to 126 times as the No. 2 hitter over the past two seasons.
If so, that alone would provide a slight opportunity boost, even if at the expense of RBI opportunities. The game-opening plate appearance provides a chance for, at most, only one RBI — on a leadoff homer — which can’t be said for anyone else in the game. However, it’s still an opportunity boost that has perceptible value in fantasy.
Harper’s Nov. 23 Tommy John surgery, which threatens to sideline him until as deep into 2023 as the All-Star break, does diminish some of the appeal to the Phillies lineup. That said, theirs was an early-underperforming, but strong-finishing, batting order — one that played a major part in steering them to the World Series. Even without Harper around for the season’s first two months (and the smart projection would assume he’s not playing any games before Memorial Day), this is a team that should still offer top-10 production in his absence. After all, postseason included, the Phillies averaged an eighth-best 4.49 runs per game after the All-Star break, and Turner’s arrival should make up for a good chunk of what’s lost during Harper’s absence.
Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park is also one of the most HR-friendly environments in baseball, as well as a top-eight run scoring venue. Checking the Statcast three-year averages, Citizens Bank was third in home runs (122, meaning it boosted homer production by 22% compared to the average ballpark) and seventh in runs scored (104), while Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium was fourth ( 118) and 17th (96), respectively, in those same categories. Turner’s gains in terms of park factors should make up for most of, if not all, of losing the benefits of his Dodgers supporting cast.
Turner’s speed has also shown no signs of waning as he heads into his age-30 season. He finished in the 99th percentile in Statcast’s sprint speed, and he has finished each of his eight big-league seasons with at least a 30 feet-per-second score, that being the threshold for only the very elite speedsters. The debate about whether he’ll lose value in that category will probably wait for at least a few seasons.
A rotisserie dynamo, Turner has finished second (2020), first (2021) and second overall (2022) on our Player Rater, and he was the only player in baseball to manage at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 100 RBI and 100 runs scored last season. That categorical balance gives him an easy case to be the No. 1 selection again in those formats, though I’d still personally prefer Shohei Ohtani due to the advantages that ESPN’s standard-league setup provides with its daily lineup moves.
In points leagues, Turner remains excellent, though it’s fair to point out that he only finished in a tie for 10th among hitters in fantasy points last season (446), after ranking eighth in the category in 2021 (466). Turner probably won’t reach 2021’s height, but he’s still a clear second-round selection there — a top-10 hitter who probably lasts into that round only because of the strategic advantages of selecting a starting pitcher first.
Turning the focus to the team Turner left, the Dodgers, we’ll see whether they scoop up one of the other big-name, free-agent shortstops, but Gavin Lux figures to handle those duties if the team decides to remain in-house or chooses to allocate its free-agent dollars to a player at another position. Lux, who hasn’t yet come close to realizing the lofty potential predicted for him a few short seasons ago, would quickly add shortstop to his outfield and second-base eligibility, and Turner’s departure does make Lux a slightly more attractive « breakthrough pick, » at least for the time being.