By most accounts, Washington Nationals’ shortstop Trea Turner started the season in a slump. It’s a short season, obviously, so there isn’t much time for the 27-year-old to ramp up going forward. The baseball season is one-third of the way through the schedule, but it’s only 20 games old — give or take depending on the team.
FanGraphs has recently included Statcast data on player profile pages, so while I was perusing Turner’s output, I found some interesting data points.
Over the last week, Turner seems to have broken away from the dreaded slump.
Dating back to the beginning of the Mets series in New York, Turner is slashing .412/.474/.735. Over that time, he’s also produced a wRC+ of 221 with three home runs.
Now, for the Statcast data: The first thing I noticed was Turner’s overall maximum exit velocity, which came in at 109.9, was significantly lower than what he’s been producing throughout his career. For example, last year his highest exit velocity was 113.5. This, of course, isn’t necessarily a problem on its face, especially combined with some of his other Statcast metrics.
If optimal launch angle is around 25 degrees, it makes sense that players are pushing for that mark. If you check Baseball Savant’s Statcast leaderboard, you’ll notice players with average launch angles around 25 degrees like Anthony Rendon (26), Matt Chapman (25.7), Austin Meadows (24.2), and Nolan Arenado (23.8).
Now, Turner wouldn’t be considered a home run hitter — the highest of his career was 19, which he achieved each of the last two years — but like most hitters, improving launch angle with the proper exit velocity will almost exclusively be beneficial. So, despite Turner’s lowered maximum exit velocity, his average launch angle is up by 3.5 degrees over last season to 13.5, while his average exit velocity is at 90.6, which is higher than any previous year, even if marginally.
It will be interesting to see if some of these metrics change before the end of the season, but what it might suggest is a streak of consistency out of Turner. While his average exit velocity was 0.1 miles per hour lower last year — which isn’t a large amount, I know — and his maximum exit velocity is 3.6 miles per hour lower than last year, Turner might end up performing as expected without any noticeable outliers.
In my mind, this is a good thing. Under these conditions, you know what you’re getting out of Turner and, perhaps more importantly, his consistency is that of a good player. All this to say: Despite his lowered maximum exit velocity this season, it should still be the same Turner Nats’ fans have known, and you shouldn’t care that max velo is down.