Milwaukee’s Brice Turang Talks Hitting

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Brice Turang grew up swinging a bat, and the fruits of those labors are coming to fruition in his second MLB season. Following up on a rookie campaign in which he logged an abysmal .585 OPS, the 24-year-old Milwaukee Brewers second baseman is flourishing to the tune of a .301/.366/.428 slash line and a 128 wRC+ over 188 plate appearances. Showing that he can be more than a threat on the bases — he swiped 26 bags a year ago and is 19-for-20 so far this season — Turang also has 15 extra-base hits this season, as many as he had in all of 2023.

The son of former big league outfielder Brian Turang, Brice Turang was drafted 21st overall by the Brewers in 2018 out of Santiago High School in Corona, California. He was ranked no. 65 on our Top 100 Prospects list entering last year. At the time, Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin wrote that Turang was “almost certain to have a significant and lengthy big league career,” albeit someone who “has never been a sure bet to do enough offensively to be an impact everyday player.” Two months into his sophomore season, one in which the Brewers are surprisingly atop the NL Central standings, Turang is looking like a hitter — small sample size acknowledged — who you just might not want to bet against.

In the latest installment of my Talks Hitting series, Turang discusses his gap-to-gap approach to his craft, which is driven more by competing than data.


David Laurila: How have you developed as a hitter over the years?

Brice Turang: “A lot of it is that I hit basically every day. My dad owned a facility and I would go with him from three o’clock to nine o’clock every night. I loved it. I loved going to work with him. I’d be in the cage all the time, hitting, [developing] hand-eye coordination. Then, as you get into pro ball, the work you do is more of a quality-over-quantity type of thing.”

Laurila: There wasn’t nearly as much hitting data available when your father played. How does the way you learned from him relate to the present day?

Turang: “I don’t look at the data. I’m up there to compete and hit the ball hard. I mean, the data is what it is. You can put a number on anything, so I don’t really even think about it. I just compete and try to hit the ball hard up the middle, hit a line drive up the middle.”

Laurila: I’ve had hitters tell me that their approach has evolved from trying to hit line drives up the middle to trying to hit line drives over the center fielder’s head; they want to elevate the ball. Is that the case for you?

Turang: “Certain people want to. I don’t. I want to be able to catch it out in front, which elevates the ball, but if I can stay low up the middle — line drives up the middle — then as I work my way farther out, those bullets start going in the air.

“I want to be a gap-to-gap guy, a run/speed guy. As you get older, you start hitting balls… I mean, you work in the gym, you’re lifting and getting stronger, but I’m not a big power guy, so what’s the point in me trying to hit the ball in the air? I’d rather work low, gap to gap, doubles, steal bases — stuff like that — and from time to time I’ll clip one. I mean, I have it in there. I have the power to hit homers, it’s just that I’m not trying to.”

Laurila: Has your swing changed at all in recent years, or is it basically still the same bat path from the same setup?

Turang: “Last year, my bat path was very long and dragging. This year it’s back to what I used to do, which is be short to it and then long through it. I’m trying not to rip out. So yeah, I tweaked my bat path this offseason to try to be tighter through the zone.”

Laurila: How had it become long and dragging?

Turang: “I was ripping my front shoulder out, and the barrel would drop, because I was trying to do too much. I was trying to hit the ball so hard, tying to pull balls in the air. There’s so much to it. But yeah, I was trying to absolutely hammer balls. That’s just not the type of guy I am, so I worked on being direct to the ball, my hands going straight to the ball and through it. I worked on being short and inside of it.”

Laurila: I’ve often asked guys if they see hitting as more of an art or as more of a science. Given that you don’t really at look at the data, I’m guessing you lean more toward it being an art?

Turang: “You can have the best swing in baseball and not hit the ball. There is so much more that goes into it than just the way you swing. Everybody’s swing is different; not one swing is the same. When you’re at foot-strike, yeah, there are similarities to landing positions and stuff like that, but at the end of the day you’ve got to be ready to hit. You’ve got to see the ball. If you can’t see the ball, you ain’t gonna hit it.

“There is also the competing factor. Your brain is so powerful. The confidence. I mean, you can build a perfect swing and have a guy go out there and never hit. Again, you’ve got to see the ball. Hitting is reactionary. It’s a reactionary game. There are many more things that go into it than just the mechanics of your swing.”

Laurila: I’m sure you’ve seen the new bat-tracking data has come out showing how different swings impact exit velocities, contact rates, and power numbers. I’ve previously asked numerous hitters about A-swings, B-swings, etc…

Turang: “How many swings are the same swing every single time? I mean, guys are throwing different pitches. You’re not getting your A-swing off all the time. That’s just part of the game, and that goes back to the competing factor. The competing factor matters. Obviously, everyone wants to get their A-swing off, but sometimes you can’t. Bat speed and stuff like that… like I said, you can put a number on whatever. There are some really good hitters who don’t have the highest bat speed.”

Laurila: Luis Arraez doesn’t have the highest bat speed…

Turang: “Great hitter. And then there are guys who do have wicked-best bat speed and they’re great hitters too. It’s putting a number on something that’s… I mean, you could justify it both ways, I guess.”

Laurila: Do you have a purposefully different swing with your two-strike approach, or are you basically just reacting to the pitch?

Turang: “I don’t know about the swing being much different, but I do try to see the ball a little deeper. Ultimately, I’m trying to swing at good pitches, competing on every pitch. Doing a job. If there’s a job out there for you to do, you’ve got to do it.”

Laurila: Any final thoughts?

Turang: “I think sometimes people forget that hitting isn’t just a physical thing. It’s very mental. You’ve got to be locked in, you’ve got to be ready to go. Again, you’re competing. The competing factor of hitting is what a lot of people miss out on. Like I said before, you could build a perfect swing, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to hit the ball. There’s more to it. Now, obviously the swing can help you, but you’ve still got to see it, and you still got to react well to it. You’ve got to compete, and you can’t put a number on competing.”


Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Jo Adell, Jeff Albert, Greg Allen, Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Jacob Berry, Alex Bregman, Bo Bichette, Justice Bigbie, Cavan Biggio, Charlie Blackmon, JJ Bleday, Bobby Bradley, Will Brennan, Jay Bruce, Triston Casas, Matt Chapman, Michael Chavis, Garrett Cooper, Gavin Cross, Jacob Cruz, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Josh Donaldson, Brendan Donovan, Donnie Ecker, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Justin Foscue, Michael Fransoso, Ryan Fuller, Joey Gallo, Paul Goldschmidt, Devlin Granberg, Andy Haines, Mitch Haniger, Robert Hassell III, Austin Hays, Nico Hoerner, Jackson Holliday, Rhys Hoskins, Eric Hosmer, Jacob Hurtubise, Tim Hyers, Connor Joe, Jace Jung, Josh Jung, Jimmy Kerr, Heston Kjerstad, Steven Kwan, Trevor Larnach, Doug Latta, Royce Lewis, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Gavin Lux, Dave Magadan, Trey Mancini, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Marcelo Mayer, Hunter Mense, Owen Miller, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Daniel Murphy, Lars Nootbaar, Logan O’Hoppe, Vinnie Pasquantino, Graham Pauley, Luke Raley, Brent Rooker, Drew Saylor, Nolan Schanuel, Marcus Semien, Giancarlo Stanton, Spencer Steer, Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis Jr., Spencer Torkelson, Mark Trumbo, Justin Turner, Trea Turner, Josh VanMeter, Robert Van Scoyoc, Chris Valaika, Zac Veen, Alex Verdugo, Mark Vientos, Matt Vierling, Luke Voit, Anthony Volpe, Joey Votto, Christian Walker, Jared Walsh, Jordan Westburg, Jesse Winker, Bobby Witt Jr. Mike Yastrzemski, Nick Yorke, Kevin Youkilis

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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17 days ago

Great read. Has been a real joy watching Turang this year and seeing his adjustments pay off after a brutal rookie season at the plate.

Always thought his realistic upside was something like vintage Kolten Wong – contact/speed with GG calibre defense at 2B – and he’s pretty much pulling it off so far this year with the added advantages of the depressed hitting and increased running environments making that contact/speed profile more valuable.

Wong 2019
285/361/423 (109 wRC+)

Turang 2024
301/366/428 (128 wRC+)