Former major league infielder, ESPN analyst and SiriusXM MLB Network Radio host Eduardo Perez predicted Thursday that a Nationals player will win the National League’s most valuable player award in 2017, which puts Perez in the same camp as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Bleacher Report’s Zach Rymer and a host of MLB.com and MLB Network experts.
Except unlike those other guys, who predict Bryce Harper will return to his 2015 form and add a second MVP to his collection, Perez expects one of Harper’s teammates to shine above his peers in the National League.
“To me, it’s going to be Trea Turner,” Perez said while co-hosting SiriusXM’s ‘The Leadoff Spot’ with Steve Phillips. “I think he’s going to be a beast, I really do. I think last year, second in rookie of the year [voting], he was playing center field. This guy’s a complete athlete. This year he’ll be in a premier position, even more than center field, which is shortstop. He has it figured out, he has the speed, but most importantly he hits for contact, only got caught stealing six times last year in 73 games, had 13 home runs his first year in, look for better numbers from Trea Turner. Look for how many stolen bases he’ll have — 33 last season. I think he’ll eclipse the 50-mark, I think he’ll eclipse the 20-home run mark, and this is why Trea Turner, to me, is not only going to be the MVP, but it’s going to be an easy choice for an MVP season.”
The 23-year-old Turner, who has drawn comparisons to Tim Raines, hit .342 with 13 home runs, 40 RBI and 33 stolen bases in less than half a season last year. There have been 19 20-home-run, 50-stolen-base seasons in baseball history. Hanley Ramirez and Eric Byrnes were the most recent players to go 20-50, both in 2007. Ramirez and Byrnes finished 10th and 11th, respectively, in MVP voting that season.
“As much as we love Kris Bryant, as much as we love Bryce Harper, as much as we love Corey Seager out in L.A., Trea Turner is this good,” said Perez, who worked as a Marlins analyst for Fox Sports Florida last season. “You don’t see this type of player come along often, and he’s going to do it. He’s going to do it at shortstop this year.”