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Trea Turner is hitting home runs like David Ortiz


Trea Turner may not have as many home runs as David Ortiz, but he’s hitting them just as far.

The 23-year-old outfielder hit a pair of homers during the Nationals’ 5-4 rout of the Phillies on Friday, including a walk-off blast that measured 440 ft. over the center field wall in Turner Stadium. It’s hardly enough to place him in the upper echelon of home run hitters, with home runs from Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gonzalez routinely exceeding 470 ft. and topping out at 495 ft. on the year, but it’s enough to land Turner in some impressive company.

One of the home run hitters he’s keeping company with is Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who carries 31 home runs to Turner’s eight. While there’s no universe in which we can reasonably compare Turner’s power-hitting capabilities over five weeks to that of a career .286/.380/.551 hitter, both Turner and Ortiz are seeing some similar results off the bat.

Per Andrew Simon and ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, both hitters carry a couple of home runs exceeding 440 ft., from Ortiz’s 451-foot long ball against San Francisco’s Jake Peavy to Turner’s 450-foot moonshot off of Arizona’s Zack Godley. They’re hitting the ball at similar speeds, too, with Ortiz’s maximum speed off the bat topping out at 116.2 m.p.h. and Turner’s sitting at 114.4 m.p.h.

Although Turner isn’t getting a full season’s worth of playing time in the majors this year, he’s raking enough to make his time with the Nationals count. Apparently, that’s just the way manager Dusty Baker planned it.

Everybody was hollering that he should have been up here sooner, but I disagree,” Baker said. “I think we left him down there long enough to get his confidence and to fine-tune his skills.

Not only have the rookie’s home runs landed among some of the farthest and fastest in the league, but they’ve arrived at just the right time. The Nationals have seen 17 of their last 30 games decided by two or fewer runs and have gone 17-13 in that stretch, thanks in no small part to Turner’s .372/.381/.558 slash line over the last month.

On the heels of a conversation in which the 23-year-old slugger disparaged some hitting advice (reminiscent of Ichiro Suzuki’s declaration that while he could hit for power, he preferred to hit for average), it appears he’s made his point.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?