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Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (will likely start 2016 season in Colorado Springs, PCL)

Advocated for by Adam McInturff

Versus

Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals (will likely start 2016 season in Washington, NL)

Advocated for by Ezra Wise

PREAMBLE

Ezra Wise: I challenge you to a duel.

Adam McInturff: I actually think the best way to initiate this duel would be with a Simpsons-style glove slapping.

EW: If you initiate, I will defend my honor.

AM: How great would it be if glove-slapping were somehow integrated into gameplay? Players slapping each other with batting gloves, perhaps?

EW: Or maybe that’s how manager challenges should be decided. I bet Jim Leyland would have been a helluva glove slap dueler.

AM: Alright. That’s enough. We have two very talented shortstops to debate–numbers 12 and 13 on this year’s Top 101 list. Let’s get to it.

SPEED

ARCIA

TURNER

60

70

AM: There’s no doubt Turner is a burner. He’s very reliant on a dominant tool, and that dominant tool is game-changing speed. That said, I’m generally skeptical of speed-first players. I don’t think Turner’s a full-on Billy Hamilton or Jarrod Dyson type, but I do see some of those undertones in his game.

EW: I’m generally skeptical of speed-first guys as well but only when speed is the player’s only legitimate meal ticket. There’s way more going on for Turner as he’s a shortstop with three above-average or better tools to go along with that game-changing speed. Speed in absence of strong baseball-specific traits is a deal-breaker for me, but when the speedy guy can really play, as is the case with Turner, that’s when you have a first-division talent on your hands.

AM: Well that’s why I said he’s not a “full on” Hamilton or Dyson. He’s a baseball player–not just a track star. There’s not much to debate with Turner when it comes to the speed itself. My biggest qualms with Turner relate to his other tools, and that first-division role you just threw on him.

As for Arcia, he’s a plus straightway runner who shows only average times up the line because of a longer swing. Turner definitely is the better runner, but let’s not forget that Arcia is at least a plus runner anywhere but home to first. He’s stolen 20 or more bases in each of the past three seasons.

BODY

EW: Turner’s body is slender and wiry—exactly what you’d expect from a guy with double-plus speed, and while he doesn’t figure to bulk up all that much, there’s definitely more strength to come, strength that will aide the development of his offensive profile.

AM: You say “slender and wiry”. I say “thin-boned.” There is more strength in Turner’s swing than many players with his build, but I don't think there's much more bulk to come. Arcia on the other hand, is roughly the same height and weight, but carries it better. I see a frame that’s much more projectable and there’s some twitch in there too. In general, Arcia shows more of the physical attributes you see from infielders who carry offensive aptitude. If I'm picking between either one of these six-footers to add strength and good size, it’s Arcia. For the record, Arcia is also the younger of the two.

POWER

ARCIA

TURNER

45+

40

EW: I’ll concede that the edge goes to Arcia in this department, as he carries the superior power projection, but it’s closer than you think.

AM: Yeah. Arcia has some thump and it kind of sneaks up on you. You see this 6-foot, 170-pound guy and at first glance it’s difficult to imagine him getting much behind the ball, but then you notice the bat speed and whip in the swing, and you get a better sense of where the pull power is coming from. In my opinion, Arcia is going to approach average in-game home run output. On top of that, he’s going to add good weight as he ages, and will eventually reach a point where his body is able to support the “bigger man’s swing” that he’s currently carrying.

EW: I couldn’t agree more, and we don’t have to belabor this part of the debate for very long, but I will say Turner’s power, even at a 40, shouldn’t go overlooked. Yes, he’s on the thin side and closer to physical maturity than Arcia, but Turner is going to get to every ounce of his power in-game thanks to hit tool strength while Arcia’s in-game output will likely play down relative to his raw.

AM: You’re right that Turner’s game-to-raw power ratio is going be higher than Arcia’s but that isn’t nearly as important as the overall output.

EW: I just think there’s a tendency to underrate the power utility of guys who don’t have average-or-better raw, but do have strong bat-to-ball ability and a “real” swing. Arcia gets the nod here but my point is that it’s closer than you think. Don’t be surprised if Turner gets up into the 13-15 home run range, especially once he reaches peak physical maturity.

HIT

ARCIA

TURNER

55

60

EW: Much of the criticism you’re about to direct at Turner is predicated on the notion that his hit tool is only above average because of the bump he gets from his wheels. Conversely, I see a plus hit tool that would stand on its own, even if Turner’s speed were average or below.

AM: I don’t see a stand alone plus hit tool. Turner doesn’t have the hand speed, bat path, or physicality needed to justify grading it plus. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’ll carry a nice batting average and routinely post high BABIP outputs. I think the speed will have a lot to do with that, more than his pure feel for hitting.

EW: That’s fair. We’re seeing different things, and that’s to be expected when grading a guy’s hit tool. It’s the most confounding aspect of evaluating a hitter, and the area where you’ll see the widest range of grades. That’s why there’s a general tendency to get carried away obsessing over the more easily quantifiable tools. Turner sure as hell has one of those tools in his speed, but it’s the hit tool that’s driving my argument. I really believe in the hit tool. I’ve seen feel for the barrel. I’ve seen him make adjustments both from series-to-series and in-game. And I’ve seen him absolutely hit the hell out of the ball. I don’t see this waify-thin slappy guy you do. Turner can hit.

AM: It’s not entirely a “punch-and-Judy” swing but I have lingering questions about his ability to turn on velocity, and specifically the type of velocity he’ll see at the highest level.

EW: I initially had some concerns about him turning on velo but then I realized that’s not really his game. He’s not going to show you all of what he can do power-wise on the inner third because his approach is geared toward the middle of the field. Further, as I alluded to before, he’s going to add more strength, even if it doesn’t show up as a whole lot of additional bulk.

AM: I don’t foresee the strength gains you do.

EW: I like Arcia’s hit tool just as much as the next guy, but the approach needs works and the abrupt upward action in his load gives me pause. He launches from an elevated position that isn’t exactly ideal for getting on-plane efficiently. It’s hardly a death sentence for his hit tool but it’s a high maintenance feature that could get in the way of full in-game translation coming to fruition.

AM: I agree that the difference between present and peak hit tool utility is greater for Arcia. That’s part of the reason he’s further away from contributing, though he is also younger than Turner. That said, the positive features of Arcia’s offensive profile are impressive. You don’t often see a middle-of-the-diamond player with the sort of swing leverage and bat whip he shows. For a smaller guy, Arcia does a great job clearing his hips and drives balls with authority to the pull side. I haven't seen Turner handle velocity and drive the ball with the same kind of authority.

EW: As I mentioned earlier, I see the lacking pull-side thump as a function of intentionality on Turner’s part, as opposed to a deficiency of some sort. The bottom line is: I buy Arcia’s hit tool and think it’s going to end up being above average, albeit after dealing with some hiccups getting there. Turner’s hit tool, on the other hand, is much closer to actualization and it will play better in both the short and long term.

AM: Turner’s hit tool is the driving force of your argument, and it’s really the only way you can justify believing he’s the better player of the two. Even having just said a number of glowing things about Arcia, there is some risk there: he’s got a big swing, he’ll expand the zone, he doesn’t identify off-speed pitches well and as a result, will often chase pitches outside the zone. Of all the possible factors that could get in the way of Arcia reaching his upside, these are the ones that concern me the most. I’m less deterred by questions the development of Arcia's bat, however, due to the abundance of defensive tools he possesses as a shortstop.

GLOVE

ARCIA

TURNER

65

55

EW: I’m anticipating these next two sections aren’t going to be all that fun for my side of the debate, but that’s more because of Arcia’s defensive wizardry than deficiencies on Turner’s part. I like Turner’s glove and see it as above-average. He’s going to handle the position more than capably, but he’s not the type who’ll ever be in the mix for Gold or Platinum Glove awards.

AM: Honestly, I’d go a hair lower on the glove. I’m just not comfortable projecting Turner as a no-doubt shortstop beyond the first few years of his career. I realize I may not have been able to fully appreciate what he can do on a short look, but I didn’t love his actions when I saw him in the Texas League last season. I agree that Turner is capable of playing the position today, yes. But overall, I've wondered if there are enough supplemental defensive tools to keep him at shortstop when he loses some of his speed.

EW: The double-plus speed and athleticism don’t translate as well as they should, but I’ve seen him make all the plays, his hands work well, and he has a good feel for the position. He doesn’t have Arcia’s defensive gifts, but I’m confident Turner will prevent runs at an above-average rate.

AM: Since we’re debating two shortstops here, placing particular emphasis on fielding ability when determining role grades is entirely justified. That’s the biggest separator between these two in my opinion. Arcia’s glove is at least plus and likely a tick more than that. His fluid, effortless defensive actions are some of the best I’ve seen at the minor league level. He makes it look easy out there.

Whether you think his glove is plus, double-plus or whatever, it’s undeniable that it’s a substantial driving force for his profile. That said, as is the case with Arcia’s unrefined approach at the plate, there’s some fine-tuning that needs to be done defensively. He’ll make the spectacular play but at times will struggle converting routine balls in play into outs.

Arcia is such a good defender that if not for his offensive upside, he probably would have been rushed to the big leagues by now a la Luis Sardinas. Once he establishes himself at the big league level, I think Arcia is going to be one of the better everyday shortstop defenders in the league. There’s plenty to like about Arcia’s offensive tools, but we’re comparing shortstops here, and you can’t really do that without placing substantial weight on fielding ability.

ARM

ARCIA

TURNER

60

55

AM: Turner’s speed helps his arm play up a bit, but on its own I don’t see it as above average. It’s not a true weakness but it isn’t a plus, either—or at least didn't play that way in my views. It plays as average to solid-average because he’s able to shorten throws with plus-plus speed and excellent range. As I touched on earlier, my primary concern is that Turner won’t have enough arm strength to handle the position once his speed and range diminish, as those attributes tend to do relatively early in a player's career.

EW: I’m not going to deny that his speed helps out a bit. It’s not an effortless sling over to first like it is for Arcia, but I’ve seen Turner throw flat footed from the hole and convert plays ranging far to his left. Completing throws like these depends almost entirely on raw arm strength, and Turner showed more than enough. Even if the speed starts to decline in his late-twenties, the experience he accumulates at the position over the years will more than compensate.

AM: I agree that Arcia has the better arm of the two. He gets the ball across the diamond effortlessly and completes seemingly difficult throws with surprising ease. His arm plays down at times as he’s still developing the footwork through his throws to improve his accuracy. Arcia has all the defensive tools, it is just a matter of continued refinement. He has age and time on his side—he wouldn't be the first above-average defender to make some of these adjustments into his early twenties.

GRADE SUMMARY

TOOL

ARCIA

TURNER

HIT

55

60

POWER

45+

40

RUN

60

70

GLOVE

65

55

ARM

60

55

ROLE

60

60

STRENGTH

Plus glove w/ 5 bat

Hit Tool / Speed

WEAKNESS

Approach

Power

SUMMATION

AM: I’ll be the first to say I was probably too low on Turner coming out of the 2014 draft. His proximity to major-league contribution, paired with the higher floor that his safer hit tool (arguably) provides, gives Turner the edge if you’re focusing on safety. However, there’s enough difference in upside between the two that I’m inclined to favor Arcia— despite the risk and longer lead time.

EW: I’ll admit that Arcia’s upside is greater than Turner’s but it’s not by much. I’ll take the here-and-now guy with the hit-tool-driven profile and game-changing speed. We’re more or less on the same page when it comes to Arcia, but when it comes to Turner we simply don’t see the same player. My advocacy for Turner is primarily driven by my belief in his hit tool—the most difficult attribute to project—and if it plays down, much of my argument unravels. Arcia has a high probability of being a starting ML shortstop even if he’s a below-average or worse offensive player. Turner on the other hand, without the same caliber of defensive tools in tow, ends up as a utility guy if his hit tool plays well below my projection. I don’t think that’ll be the case but plan Bs are worth keeping in mind. In fact, now that I think about it, it’s possible that we have our overly-reductive “high ceiling” and “high floor” tags mismatched. Overall, Turner’s going to be a plus overall offensive performer who features above-average defense at the shortstop position, and difference-making speed that will impact the game on both sides of the ball.

AM: I'd lean towards agreeing if I believed in Turner’s speed-independent hitting ability more. I just think it’s too dependent on a characteristic that’s regresses quickly over time. I’m not saying Turner can’t be a regular. In fact, he’s been proving me wrong since the day he signed. He's posted impressive table-setting numbers since the day he started his pro career. It isn’t that I don’t see what you’re saying, but rather that I don’t think Turner is the pure hitter you think he is. Without a doubt, projecting a player’s hit tool is the most nuanced and subjective aspect of evaluating a hitter—and I think that's what has played into the variance in scout's opinions about each player.

Thank you for reading

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zwsmith17
2/12
Do you think that Turner will win the starting SS job out of Spring Training or do you think he'll start off behind someone like Danny Espinosa? If so, how long do you think it will take for Turner to become the everyday starter? Thanks!
aMcInturff
2/12
I'm not sure he wins the job out of Spring, though if he has a huge Grapefruit Lg I think that makes it hazier. The Nationals have Stephen Drew, Espinosa, Turner, And potentially Daniel Murphy or Anrhony Rendon in their 2B/SS mix, with either Murphy or Rendon at 3B.

Just a lot of veterans around him to start the year. Turner's tough MLB debut offensively, paired with the addition of Stephen Drew as a potential stop-gap, all made me wonder how much trust the Nats trusted Turner as their opening day guy.
preciseja
2/12
I think the team probably views Espinosa as the stop gap at short over Drew, in addition you must have an incredibly low opinion of Turner if you think he would struggle to beat out Drew.
aMcInturff
2/12
Be it Espinosa or Drew, there is a stop gap. You're right, though, Espinosa would be more the starter than Drew. I used 'stop gap' liberally.

I hear what you're saying regarding my opinion of Turner if I saw Drew genuinely 'beating him out,' as you implied. I don't see it happening so statically, but I do for are a scenario in which Turner starts at Syracuse just as the 'odd man out' of Washington's infield mix.

Drew is a veteran, being paid significantly more, and clearly doesn't come with the options or roster flexibility of Turner, the younger player. There's that. Secondly, if Turner isn't going to start every day in Washington (presuming Espinosa starts), I just can't see them holding back his development by sticking him on the bench in Washington. I think in this scenario, they start him at Syracuse so he gets at bats every day.
preciseja
2/12
The only thing I see holding Turner back from being the day one starter at this point is the service clock.
ezrawise
2/12
True, although the Nats are in the heart of a competitive window. If the club determines Turner is the best option, they'll likely roll with him regardless of service time considerations.
ezrawise
2/12
You're right. Drew isn't really an obstacle for Turner. There's nothing about his recent performance that suggests he's deserving of a starting role.
ezrawise
2/12
I do. If not right out of Spring Training, the job will be his shortly thereafter.
SlackerGeorge
2/13
Love this series. I feel the site may become problematic, though, what with all the male body objectifying. Can you do a Schiffer / Klum debate for a little balance?