2021 Washington Nationals: Sizing Up NL East Shortstops

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With spring training lingering for pitchers and catchers, the 2021 Washington Nationals roster looks all but final. Few free agents loom over the league currently, and the Nats are most likely going to keep what they already got from this offseason. This allows fans to turn their attention to the new season which begins April 1st against the New York Mets. 

This matchup carries a huge storyline within it, that of course being the shortstop battle between two greats. Trea Turner has blessed the Washington Nationals with a franchise shortstop playing out of NC State. Turner is scheduled to battle against the recently signed Francisco Lindor, a terrific shortstop of his own right. The Nationals have a tough first month to kick off their 2021 season. This first matchup, along with the spotlight being on these two middle infielders, will shed light on what is to come in this season for the Washington Nationals.

2021 Washington Nationals: The Stats for the Shortstops

The former Cleveland cornerstone is now on the move to the Big Apple. Lindor, throughout his career, has had the upper hand when comparing him to Turner. At the plate, his stats have the Washington shortstop slightly beat. These include a .285 career batting average thus far, three straight seasons with 30 plus home runs, and 896 hits through six years of play. These stats will no doubt carry the Mets this season as Lindor is primed to be a leader in that department.

Turner holds a .296 career average, which could be even with or lower than Lindor’s given that he has played significantly fewer games than him. Turner is not known for his power at the plate, as he hasn’t got over 20 home runs a year in his six-year career. He is rather known for his solid contact along with his speed on the base path. Turner is still lacking the lead in terms of hits as he only has 644.

Stepping out from the batter’s box, Lindor is known as an excellent fielder as well. Two gold glove performances in 2016 and 2019 can prove just that. Lindor edges Turner in his career fielding percentage with .981 compared to Turner’s .974, in his six seasons played at the shortstop position. Here is where the gap, however, starts to form. In defensive runs saved, Lindor is far ahead with a +33 DRS. And, he also ranks eighth overall in fielding runs above average, while Turner ranks 136th since moving to shortstop in 2017 and holds a -5 DRS. 

Francisco Lindor has maintained a healthy MLB career to date. In the full seasons allowed, Lindor has only fallen below 150 games played once, which was in 2019. Turner has not fared as well with 541 career games played, compared to Lindor’s 777 games. Both men are 27 years of age heading into the 2021 season for their respective NL east teams.

2021 Washington Nationals: Trea Turner’s Peak

In the eyes of many, Turner is lacking only in the fielding category. The overall hitting stats continue to improve for Turner, this proves true as he is coming off a league-leading 78 hits from the 2020 season. On the base path and the agility side of things, Turner is viewed as superior here. He has the fifth-best stolen base percentage among active big leaguers with an 83.42. This number is powered by his once clocked top speed of 22.7 mph when Turner was legging out a triple. That is surprisingly faster than any NFL ball carrier was in the 2018 season. This could all be in the making of what is to come for the 2021 Washington Nationals and their franchise shortstop.

The shortened season in 2020 really brought confidence to Trea Turner and his game. There is absolutely no reason why Turner can’t continue to build that confidence and get better this coming season. The better player of these two great shortstops is a close call, however, the title goes to Lindor at the moment. Lindor has matched Turner at the plate, created a gap on the defensive, and has earned solid numbers on the base path to be amongst the top base runners in the game. We must ask the question, when will the peak come for each player? 

Trea Turner will prove his peak in the year(s) to come to combat Lindor. Will the freshly signed Mets superstar keep up with Trea Turner and his potential peak? This coming season is sure to be something special when keeping this particular story line in mind.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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