Trea Turner is working to become a difference-maker for the Nationals again


Trea Turner is attempting to copy his 2016 manufacturing this season. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Publish)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Washington Nationals Supervisor Dave Martinez claims there “wasn’t truly a guide” on Trea Turner, nobody technique the Chicago Cubs, Martinez’s earlier employer, applied to assault the shortstop after they encountered the Nationals within the Nationwide League Department Sequence closing October. The former time the Cubs had observed Turner, he stole seven bases in 3 video games. Martinez, then the Cubs’ bench trainer, mentioned they simply sought after to keep away from letting him get on base in any respect prices.

“When he will get on base,” Martinez mentioned, “he reasons a wide variety of problems.”

The Cubs didn’t have to fret a lot about Turner’s base operating within the five-game sequence. Turner went three for 21 with two walks and 7 strikeouts. He went hitless within the first 3 video games and stole his best base in Recreation five. The Nationals’ sparkplug was once neutralized for the second one consecutive postseason, a irritating conclusion to a irritating sophomore marketing campaign that started with a pothole. Heading into 2018, Turner is aiming to recapture his rookie shape.

When Turner was once promoted to the large league degree for just right in 2016, expectancies standard of a peak prospect arrived with him. He was once, finally, the Nationals’ shortstop of the long run, a top-of-the-order bat with elite velocity to position on the peak of the batting order. Nevertheless it was once tricky to foresee him right away changing into one of the crucial highest gamers within the Nationwide League and completing 2nd within the NL rookie of the yr race after now not taking part in each day till the tip of July. Even for him.

“I don’t suppose me or anyone anticipated ’16 to move in addition to it did,” Turner mentioned. “As a way to me, I feel, it was once identical to, ‘“Wow, I will do greater than I feel I will.’”

Which most likely made his manufacturing in 2017 extra irritating than for the standard 23-year-old shortstop in his first complete main league season. Making the transfer again to shortstop after completing 2016 in middle box, Turner was once at the 10-day disabled record with a strained hamstring not up to every week into the season. It took till every week in past due June for Turner to in spite of everything get away over a sustained stretch. He went five for five someday in opposition to the Cincinnati Reds. He stole 8 bases and walked greater than he struck out over the seven video games — a small pattern dimension however encouraging however.

Then, on June 30, after terrorizing the Cubs for 4 days, Turner was once plunked at the proper wrist by way of a 96-mph fastball by way of Pedro Strop within the 9th inning of the sequence finale. The wrist fractured. Turner wasn’t again in Washington’s lineup for 2 months. After batting .342 with a .937 on-base-plus-slugging proportion in 324 plate appearances in 2016, Turner batted .284 with a .789 OPS in 447 plate appearances in 2017.

Across the absences — and most likely as a result of them — Turner mentioned he evolved unhealthy mechanical behavior within the batter’s field. He discovered himself in a unique hitting place than in 2016. Replicating that season’s manufacturing, in consequence, was once not likely. He has labored this spring with hitting trainer Kevin Lengthy to revive his 2016 shape.

Lengthy, a number one launch-angle fanatic, is satisfied Turner is a line-drive hitter as a result of his swing is “very on aircraft” with the baseball. The issue closing season, subsequently, wasn’t his swing. Lengthy thinks it was once his manner. The person credited with shepherding Daniel Murphy’s midcareer transformation desires Turner to hit the ball at the flooring extra to the correct facet whilst lifting the ball to his pull facet.

“That’s what I did [in 2016],” the 24-year-old Turner mentioned. “Once they threw me away, I took my hit, the only or possibly within the hole for additonal bases. However then after they pounded me in, I may just hit it out of the park that method. I’m now not essentially going to simply flick the ball to proper box and hit a homer. I truly must force it, which I will do, however I’ve to take an ideal swing on a just right pitch. For me, if I will take my hits that method, it’s positive with me.”

The adaptation was once notable. Turner’s line-drive price dropped from 25.five to 14.eight p.c, his groundball price jumped from 43.1 to 51.7 p.c, and his hard-hit ball price sank from 34.eight to 26.7 p.c. The outcome? A nose-dive in BABIP, batting reasonable on balls in play, from a staggering .388 to .329. Good fortune is a consider BABIP, however the variations in batted balls impacted Turner’s manufacturing.

Moreover, Turner mentioned groups pitched him another way closing yr than in 2016. Two years in the past, Turner mentioned, warring parties fed him a gradual nutrition of fastballs as a result of they didn’t need to give him a loose base. Remaining season, he encountered extra variety in pitch variety. The adaptation, Turner defined, is shedding pitches to position himself in batters’ counts extra ceaselessly.

“While you turn out you’ll hit, you get tricky pitches to hit,” Turner mentioned. “After which you were given to turn out you’ll take them. And while you turn out you’ll take them, they’ll come up with pitches to hit. It’s from side to side, from side to side.”

Turner started closing season within the No. 2 spot within the order however jumped to the leadoff spot when Adam Eaton tore his anterior cruciate ligament in past due April. As a leadoff batter over the last two years, Turner ceaselessly hit forward of the departed Jayson Werth, one of the crucial affected person hitters in baseball. Werth’s tendency to paintings deep into counts afforded Turner rampant alternatives to scouse borrow bases.

This season, Turner will bat 2nd once more with Eaton’s expected go back, most often hitting in entrance of Bryce Harper. Turner mentioned they have got already had conversations about conceivable eventualities they might come across.

“I’ve all the time advised everyone that hits at the back of me, swing at no matter you wish to have as a result of in the event you hit the ball within the hole, I’ll ranking,” Turner mentioned. “I don’t care that a lot about stolen bases. So after I scouse borrow and a man fouls a pitch off, for me it’s now not that irritating. I’ve all the time attempted to make precedence to the blokes at the back of me. On the similar time, I’m nonetheless going to take a look at to be competitive, however I’ve to grasp when to be competitive on what guys do and don’t like.”

Martinez insisted Turner can have the fairway mild at the base paths once more. The executive desires his membership to run the bases aggressively, and that begins with one of the crucial quickest gamers in baseball. Turner wanted simply 98 video games to swipe 46 luggage on 54 probabilities after compiling 33 steals in 73 video games in 2016. He smirked when requested what number of bases he will have stolen if he have shyed away from the disabled record.

“I don’t know,” he mentioned. “Twenty extra possibly? I don’t know. I simply need to be wholesome this yr.”

As his supervisor is aware of: When he will get on base, he’s an issue.

Extra at the Nationals:

Nationals to provide price ticket exchanges within the tournament of lengthy rain delays this season

Max Scherzer doesn’t suppose he’s reached his top: ‘I could also be higher in 2018’

There’s a large, furry, Jayson Werth-shaped hollow within the Nats’ clubhouse

Watch: Nats fanatics audition to sing ‘Superstar-Spangled Banner’

‘It’s now not honest to my teammates or myself’: Bryce Harper explains why he gained’t speak about 2019

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