At just 23, Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals has already established himself as one of the most exciting players in the league.
In December of 2014, Washington Nationals general manager, Mike Rizzo completed what could very well end up being one of the most lopsided trades of all time. The Nationals traded outfielder Steven Souza, fresh off his no-hitter-saving catch, to the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team trade that also included the San Diego Padres and, in return, received Trea Turner and Joe Ross.
Turner spent some time in the Nationals minor leagues and was a September call-up in 2015, but did not fully break into the big leagues until 2016. Turner, a natural shortstop, was forced to learn to play center field on the fly after Ben Revere and Michael Taylor struggled, and did so flawlessly.
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After his call-up, Turner provided a much needed offensive spark for the Nats at the top of the lineup and played great defense in center field. Amazing, considering he was learning a new position at the highest level.
Turner broke onto the scene and hit for an astonishing batting average of .342 and had an on-base percentage of .370. He also led the Nationals with 33 stolen bases while only playing in 73 games.
Turner instantly became one of the best players on the Nationals and one of the best players in the league. He ended up being an essential member of the Nationals roster and there’s no telling how the Nationals would have fared with the Revere/Taylor duo in center field instead of Turner.
Turner never really had a cold streak and continued his success into the postseason, scoring five runs and hitting .318 in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Turner went on to finish second for National League Rookie of the Year, behind only Corey Seager.
This offseason, the Nationals acquired outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox and traded Danny Espinosa to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, allowing Turner to move back to his natural position of shortstop. This move should allow Turner to feel more comfortable defensively and focus more on offense.
As District on Deck’s own Ricky Keeler stated in his 2017 roster projection, Turner will probably hit in the two-hole this season, with Eaton leading off.
I believe that this will be very beneficial to Turner. Eaton should be able to get on base a lot in front of Turner and is also a stolen base threat, so opposing pitchers will have to pay attention to Eaton and could possibly make a mistake to Turner.
If Turner is hitting in the two-hole, he will likely be in front of Bryce Harper or Daniel Murphy, two of the league’s most elite hitters. Pitchers won’t want to walk Turner and put a base runner on in front of Harper and Murphy, so Turner is likely to see a lot of fastballs. Turner has also established himself as an elite hitter and has proven he is capable of hitting any pitch, but he is still young so seeing lots of fastballs could prove beneficial to him.
Turner had a fantastic rookie campaign in 2016, succeeding even while playing out of position and beginning the year in the minor leagues. Personally, I am extremely excited to see what he is capable of in a full season when he returns to his natural position and hits near the top of a very lethal Nats lineup.
Trea Turner should put on quite the show this year.