2019 preview – Trea Turner

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

For the Washington Nationals, Trea Turner is another player who has drawn emotional responses from our posters throughout the year. Let’s start by making a couple of indisputable statements: 1) Trea Turner is a very good player; 2) This was Trea Turner’s 1st full season in the Majors. In fact, Turner played in all 162 games this season in an iron man type season (a  long way from Ripken).

When you start there and also state that Turner is a critical and central piece of the Nats present and future, I think you can count on near unanimous agreement. Still there was a trivial amount of negativity surrounding this player, and I contend that some of it was warranted.

Trea Turner burst on the scene in 2016 with a stunning half season. His combination of speed and power and surprising competent defense in a position he hadn’t played before in centerfield professionally left us all giddy and anticipating more to come. The .937 OPS and 3.3 WAR in less than half a season in 2016 was simply awesome and there was every reason for high optimism. In an injury filled 2017, Trea’s game came down to earth somewhat; the OPS came down to .789 and he also produced 2.8 WAR in 98 games, but he also put to bed the idea that he doesn’t have a shortstop’s arm while playing the position exceptionally well and he also added 46 stolen bases in just 98 games.

Coming into 2018 there was good reason to hope that if healthy Trea could put together a wonderful year. Trea’s year was marked by some ups and downs but ultimately some of the numbers couldn’t be viewed as anything but disappointing given his past successes. The biggest disappointment lies in the .760 OPS and a stolen base total of just 43 (he stole 46 in just 98 games last year). I think there are several factors in play here. To me, Trea was caught in no man’s land between a table setter and a run producer, and I think his hitting style is more that of a run producer and I think Trea is a better hitter when he is allowed to be aggressive, hitting ahead of Bryce Harper greatly curtailed his running game as well. Another glaring issue this year was Trea’s 2 strike approach. How many times did we see Turner take a 3rd strike call which was way too close to take? If he looks to improve one area for next year it has to be the ability to spoil tough pitches with a 2 strike count. If he can do that his OBP will approach .375 where it belongs.

Having said all of that we have to say that there are 29 other teams who would drool to have a young shortstop of Turner’s quality and it’s a position we don’t have to worry about for many years to come. He finished with a Fangraphs WAR of 4.8 which was 3rd best on the Nats (Scherzer 1st / Rendon 2nd) and 3rd best for shortstops in the NL if you consider Javier Baez as a shortstop and that Trevor Story plays half his games in Colorado. We don’t want another shortstop — we just want a slightly better Trea Turner.

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