Washington Nationals: Trea Turner’s Playoff Slump Concerning?

rshinberg
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 07: Trea Turner
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 07: Trea Turner /
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Washington Nationals Short Stop Trea Turner had a disappointing 2017 NLDS. How will he respond when called upon early in 2018?

Trea Turner’s slump in the 2017 NLDS undoubtedly hurt the Washington Nationals against the Chicago Cubs.  The Nats leadoff man recorded three hits in 21 at-bats, with seven strikeouts and two walks.

In the series, Turner stole just one base and hit for extra bases only once.  During the regular season, Turner led the team in stolen bases (46) and finished sixth in extra-base hits (41).

For the optimistic Nationals fan, this might not be a concern.  After all, the Cubs starting rotation contained dominant pitchers: Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Jake Arrieta.  Nearly every National had a couple of bad games against this staff.

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For the pessimistic Nationals fan, there is room for concern.  Postseason aside, Turner performed worse in most statistical categories in 2017 than 2016, despite playing 25 more games in 2017.

Turner’s batting average dropped 58 points, his on-base percentage fell 32 points, and his on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) dropped a staggering 148 points.

Turner’s AB/HR rate increased significantly (37.5 compared to 23.6), and his AB/SO rate decreased slightly (5.15 compared to 5.20).

By no means did Turner have a “bad year” but his performance did noticeably drop from his rookie season.

The million-dollar question remains: Which Turner will the Nats see in 2018?  His career stat line shows his all-star potential.  Is 2018 the year he puts it all together?

2018 could be the first year Turner starts more than 100 games. In 2017, he missed multiple months after fracturing his wrist after being hit by a pitch.  He was limited to 98 games.

Turner’s specialty, without question, is his speed.  He can bunt for base hits.  He can turn doubles in the gap into stand-up triples.  Just his presence on first base is enough to make opposing pitchers more uncomfortable than usual.

But, what makes Turner stand out from the rest of the MLB’s “speedsters” (such as Billy Hamilton of Cincinnati and Byron Buxton of Minnesota) is his consistency with the bat.

If Turner can provide consistent offense from the leadoff spot, it doesn’t only benefit himself but the rest of the Nats offense.

This will be especially vital for the beginning of the season as Daniel Murphy’s status for Opening Day is still uncertain.

If Turner can’t play up to his standards, the burden of production will weigh heavier on the bats of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Anthony Rendon.

Looking ahead to April of 2018, the Nats will need their offense to shine.  In April, the Nats play a pair of three-game series with the Mets, and three series with the daunting NL West playoff trio of Colorado, Los Angeles, and Arizona.

Potentially awaiting the Nats in those series are Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Jon Gray, Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Zach Greinke, and Robbie Ray.  Not to mention the Nats might meet up with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto in the Bay Area.

Next: Nats offensive strategy likely changing

As good as Harper, Zimmerman, and Rendon are, they can’t beat those all-stars alone.  The Nats will need Turner to hit the ground running to start the season – pun intended.

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