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Emerging shortstops: Trevor Story and Trea Turner

On the surface, Trea Turner and Trevor Story are closely related. Both were taking relatively early in the first round (12th and 13th overall), both play shortstop, both are entering their age 23 season, and both have a whole lot of question marks as to just how good they will be. There’s little doubt that each will make the majors, as both have already torn up every level of the minors, up to and including Triple A. And while their ceilings are high enough to be potential perennial All-Stars, there is a bit of a rocky road they each need to take if they want to get there.

Colorado Rockies LogoTrevor Story is about as interesting a prospect as one could imagine. An early pick out of high school, he smashed his way into top 100 prospect relevancy by force, and a lot of power; he crushed 18 bombs as a 19-year-old in A ball. Then he had a down season, thanks to a ridiculous 33.0% strikeout rate. But he came back from that the next year by cutting that back to 27.1%, and doubled his wRC+ from 83 to 164. After an underwhelming season in Double A, he lit up everything in sight last year right through Triple A.

Story is a little back and forth, but when he’s on, he is one of the most valued prospects you could write about. He brings enough power to help supply the city of Denver, posting an isolated slugging mark over .200 four times in his career so far. The strikeouts get worrisome; at his worst they go over 30% easily, but his ceiling is that of a 25+ homer shortstop which brings huge interest.

Washington Nationals LogoAs similar on the surface as they are, underneath the hoods these guys are quite different. The best thing I could say about Trea Turner’s power is that at least there’s more evidence for it than Bigfoot (hint – there isn’t a lot). But what he lacks in power he makes up for with elite bat to ball skills, and an advanced batter’s eye.

He honed his craft by working his way through the college system, and although his slugging percentage will certainly not get you many points, his ability to get on base and then steal his way over to scoring position will. He has easy 70/80 speed, although some scouts have rates it as 75 or higher, and a knack for finding times to swipe the next bag. His lack of strength will bring up some concern, but if he can translate his contact ability to the Show, he’s essentially another Derek Jeter type, or Elvis Andrus with a batting average.

Both have huge upside. Story has the power, park, and lineup to support him. Turner has the contact and the speed to play it up. But neither are guaranteed a job yet, and neither are guaranteed success. Story has Jose Reyes currently blocking him long-term, unless he can secure the job before Reyes comes back. Turner has a more open door, but he may not be polished enough to hit the ground running on opening day (although it was a small sample at the end of a long year, he looked heavily outmatched against major league competition as a September call-up).

So let’s dig into the safer pick. It’s easy to start with Turner, because of Story’s inconsistency. And the news gets even better for Trea as we look deeper. His discipline stats are way better, with strikeouts hanging around the high teens percentages compared to mid 20s to mid 30s for Story, and he walks at a similar rate despite a lack of power. He’s also never needed an adjustment period to any level (MLB excluded) unlike Story, who needed time to adjust to A+ and AA. If all we need is floor, it’s an easy choice to pick Turner. But of course, that’s not the only thing that matters.

The potential power that Story’s bat holds, especially considering he’s slated to have around 300 plate appearances per season in Coors Field, will make fantasy owners uncomfortable just thinking about it. He has worked on decreasing groundball rates in order to hit more flies, and therefore hit more homers. He has improved every season, and is down to just a 25% grounder rates. His .237 isolated slugging between AA and AAA in 2015 is insane, even for the parks he was in. When we compare this to Turner, who has less homers in his entire professional career than Story did in his first full season (18 for Story, 14 for Turner), there’s just no question who has the higher ceiling, even considering the stolen bases Turner can offer.

Both shortstops are drawing lots of attention for grabbing the starting positions for their respective teams, and short is always a position fantasy owners need to watch. Historically a position with poor offensive output, both guys offer plus to better potential here. Even though Trea Turner is a safe bet to hit around .280 or more with speed, if you’re looking to really make a splash then Trevor Story is the way to go. He offers not just big power, but consistent power. Everything about his profile screams slugger, and the environment he’s about to enter will allow his bat to play huge.

 

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James Krueger
James lives in Tampa, Florida and is often one of the 10,000 people you can see at Rays' home games. He's a huge fan of prospects, loves analyzing swing mechanics, and will eat a "Top 100" list for breakfast. Dynasty leagues are his forte, especially rebuilding teams; building a farm system is the best part.

3 comments on “Emerging shortstops: Trevor Story and Trea Turner

  1. I have had Story for two years on my keeper team, so I hope you are right. Keep up the good writing.

  2. Hard to pass on a comp for Turner being in the mold of a Derek Jeter type player. Personally IMO, Story reminds me of Ian Desmond, great pop for a SS decent speed, high K rate, but better BB rate. Glad I have an easy choice, having both on my minor league roster.

  3. Hi James,

    I am pretty shortstop rich in a 10 team, points, keeper league. I have Lindor for $11 and Kang for $1. In addition I have Turner, Mateo, and Rodgers on the farm at no cost. On top of that, Story/Reyes both on waivers. I am really confident in Kang when he comes back and I like Lindor but since it’s 10 team I am trying to do a 2-1 with him and someone else for a big star with top 10-15 overall potential. For example I offered Lindor and Abreu for Goldy but got rebuffed. Also have wainwright and Lindor for Harvey floating out there.

    Curious about 2 things. 1- Do you like this approach? 2- Is there anyone you would aim for that is on the cusp of being a star that is worth overpaying for? Obviously harder to get guys to pull trigger on established studs like Harvey/Goldy. I’ll also list current team config in case you have any specific ideas:

    Lucroy
    Abreu
    Pedroia
    Franco
    Lindor/Kang
    Parra
    Betts
    Pederson
    Choo
    Hanley
    Ortiz

    Scherzer
    Sale
    Strasburg
    Wainwright
    Yu
    Iglesias
    Eduardo Rodriguez
    Velasquez
    Cobb
    Wade Davis
    Ken Giles
    Jake Mcgee
    Doolittle

    Thanks in advance for all your thoughts.

    Best,

    Mike

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