Washington Nationals: Trea Turner Scoops Rookie Honors
By Ron Juckett
Washington Nationals outfielder Trea Turner pulls a rarity in winning NL Rookie of the Month honors twice in a row.
For the second consecutive cycle, Washington Nationals prodigy Trea Turner won the National League Rookie of the Month Award.
Although Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award going away, what Turner accomplished this season is remarkable.
In 29 games to close out the regular season, Turner won the honor a second straight month on a slash line of .339/.380/.612. His OPS reached .991 for the period. Those are not rookie numbers, but MVP level.
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As the leadoff hitter, he slammed eight home runs, five doubles and two triples, collecting 41 hits in 121 at-bats. Throw in 15 stolen bases in 18 tries and you have a hitter that will cause sleepless nights for the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff. Along with Anthony Rendon, Turner pushed the team to a division title and home field as the rest of the offense nursed injuries or struggled.
Need we remind you he turned 23 on June 30.
Expected to be a shortstop, Turner is learning on the fly how to play centerfield. In the minors he played all of seven games in the outfield, taking the crash course this year with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.
Yes, sometimes his lack of experience shows in the outfield. What has come off the bat and basepaths is a genuine peasant shock to everybody. In 73 games, his 33 stolen bases and eight triples placed Turner in fifth place in both categories. For the whole season.
If you want to project him with full year numbers, he would have swiped 66 bases, 26 homers while driving in close to 80 runs. Amazing projections from a NL leadoff hitter. In his short time, he posted a WAR of 3.5. Good enough for sixth on the team.
With all the expectations coming aboard a team under pressure to return to the playoffs, and as a highly touted prospect, what Turner did the second half of 2016 is as legendary as what Gary Sanchez did with the New York Yankees. He has put himself in a position that a normal 2017 will be considered a disappointment.
As long as Turner feels comfortable, either as an outfielder or as a shortstop, he will draw comparisons to Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and NL presumptive MVP Kris Bryant with the Chicago Cubs.
The instincts on defense will come in time. Even Nationals Park and the different lighting still causes moments of uncertainty. If the offense holds up, he will join Bryant and the other elite hitters in the NL, including teammate Bryce Harper, in the MVP conversation for a long time.