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Longtime SF Giants Player Development Guru On Changes In Baseball

July 11, 2019
With a background in player development, Shane Turner has been able to travel far and wide, catching a glimpse of the ever-changing landscape of life in a professional baseball organization's farm system.

Turner, now in his 23rd year with the San Francisco Giants, holds the title of special assistant to the baseball operations department. Previously, Turner had served as a manager or coach at every single level of the Giants' minor league system. He also was the coordinator of minor-league operations.

From the amount of time he's spent working in the minor-league system, Turner has noticed change when it comes to executing the fundamentals of the game.

"The result is the lack of preparation," Turner said on The Ross Grimsley Show July 9. "The hardest place to play the game is at the major-league level. When you're in the middle of competing and things happen, if you're not prepared correctly, it is hard to expect the player to do the right thing."

"I think less time is spent on fundamentals. I think there's a theory that a rested player is a better player. ... But a player that doesn't work at his craft doesn't get any better, either," he added.

This appears to be the case for many major-league teams across the league, one being the Orioles, who currently find themselves ranked 29th out of 30 total teams with 68 errors. The Orioles have also struggled with fundamental breakdowns throughout the season. The Seattle Mariners (No. 30) committed an astonishing 92 errors during the first half of the season alone.

Tuner believes this issue is fixable but thinks that amateur ball brought forth an era of players who focus solely on swinging for the fences or pitching for the radar gun.

"I think this started in amateur baseball," Turner said. "I think when they started with the showcase tournaments, the showcase events for scouts where players are trying to throw as hard as they can and hit the ball as far as they can and run as fast as they can, that's kind of where it started with fundamentals not being as important."

It certainly is true that players who can hit for power are highly coveted in today's game, and that has become apparent during the current big-league season. Hitters blasted 3,691 home runs during the first half, a new record for total home runs before the All-Star break.

Turner also touched on the analytics that have been implemented in today's game and across the minors. While he does feel that the new information being provided is beneficial in doses, he believes it can almost be overwhelming at times, turning players' routines into automations.

"They're being told what to do and where to play so much that it's [caused] players to lose any kind of instinctual aspect of playing baseball," Turner said. "They're almost robotic until they get a hit. ... The guy on the mound is trying to throw 100, [and] the guy hitting is trying to hit it 500 feet." 

Looking ahead, Turner does feel that the game of baseball will change once again as the evolution of the sport continues.

"I think it's going to change because it has to," Turner said. "... I think the game will change somewhere where all the old school and new school meet and create another new school."

For more from Turner, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shane Turner