Shortstop is one of the most important positions on the diamond, known for its star athletes and flashy glovework. A good shortstop is often a building block for any contending team. These three shortstops are all extraordinarily talented, yet didn’t have the statistical profile to stand out last year. Here are three to watch in the upcoming season.
Three Shortstops to Watch in 2024
The Philadelphia Phillies‘ shortstop is one of the superlative players in the league, but an ugly first half could have left a nasty mark on the back of his baseball card.
Turner received his famous standing ovation on August 4 when his slash line stood at .236/.289/.367 for a 76 wRC+. After that game? Turner went on a tear, posting MVP-like numbers over the rest of the season. His power returned, he cut down his strikeout rate, and looked every bit the player the Phillies had hoped when they signed him to his massive deal. Over that final stretch of the season, Turner hit .339/.391/.677 with 16 home runs, compared to the 10 he hit up until that point despite only having half the plate appearances.
The slick-fielding shortstop will surely hope to build on that momentum he continued throughout the postseason. Turner’s results were the byproduct of making much more impactful contact as well as swinging much more often at pitches in the zone. According to FanGraphs, Turner bumped up his in-zone swing rate from about 75% to 81% while making harder, more frequent contact.
His overall athleticism is still one of his most convincing attributes and he should continue to be an elite hitter. One weakness that stood out was his drastic underperformance on fastballs. He clearly still has the ability to do serious damage against the pitch, though. Up until August 4, he had -13.8 runs above average against fastballs. Afterward, he had a +9 run value.
Turner will be a pivotal part in the Phillies’ attempt to return to the World Series. This year, if he continues at his revived level of play, don’t be surprised if he ends up receiving some MVP votes.
The New York Yankees made the bold statement to start Volpe the entire season, no matter the results. The benefits were tangible and gave Volpe some much needed development time, given his lack of experience in the minors.
That leaves Volpe under the spotlight in 2024. The first year was an understandable step to build him up for the future. But after hitting .209 with a poor strikeout rate, Volpe needs to show he has improved enough at the plate if he is to become a franchise cornerstone. He has the athletic tools to be a valuable player even without an elite bat, but his approach needs to be better this season.
Volpe is optimistic about the lessons he learned heading into this season, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
“I learned a ton last year about everything. We’ve been going to work,” Volpe said. “I think it’s just taking some of the strengths of my game and trying to make those more consistent. With that, ironing out some of the things that didn’t set me up for as much success as I expected.”
His presence in the lineup will be an important and entertaining part of this Yankees’ season. Ideally, Volpe could end up hitting in front of players like Juan Soto and Aaron Judge to cause even more havoc for opponents. Even with a low batting average, Volpe hit 21 home runs and stole 24 bases. His breakout season could turn him into a true standout at the position for a team looking to rebound with a reworked lineup.
On such a star-studded roster like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Lux doesn’t receive the same attention as his teammates, but he has displayed impressive talent in his time in the majors. Lux missed the entire 2023 season, but he could return to add yet another exceptional talent to the lineup.
The last time Lux was on the field he hit .276 with a much-improved plate approach. According to BaseballSavant, Lux was in the top 25% of players for each of chase percentage, walk rate, defensive range, and sprint speed. He has the makings of an all-around player now that he is fully healthy and ready to emerge as the full-time shortstop.
His ability to stay disciplined at the plate should pair well with his contact numbers. A player like Lux could deepen an already incredible lineup should he find his rhythm quickly after missing last season. He was a budding talent a few years ago. Will he continue his rise in his age-26 season?
Shortstop is always a key position, yet these three players could be some of the marquee players to watch for their respective teams. Will any of these three be able to help guide their team to a championship?
Main Image: Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK