Washington Nationals: Trea Turner emerges as leader

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Trea Turner
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Trea Turner /

All signs are pointing to Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner becoming a complete player. From the plate to the clubhouse, he is ready for the spotlight.

From the moment last season ended too early, Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner know he had to step up. If Sunday’s B-Game win over the New York Mets was a sign, consider it a lesson learned.

It is hard being critical of Turner. In his two partial seasons in Washington, his hitting and ability to steal bases have turned heads. He plays the game with genuine enthusiasm. Baseball is part of his DNA.

Yet, from too many jump throws to not having a grasp on how to properly lead off, there are parts of Turner’s game needing work. Understanding spring statistics carry as much worth as that expired McDonald’s coupon in your wallet, early returns show a changed player.

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Turner is more selective at the plate. Already, he has four walks and three strikeouts. He is hitting the ball naturally instead of forcing swings and falling behind. A ball into the hole versus New York drew a regular strong throw instead of his usual jumper.

Perhaps the biggest change into his baseball maturity—not a knock on Turner, who always comes across well—was between innings when he chatted with reliever Brady Dragmire walking back to the dugout. Turner did not yell but put a hand on the back and asked a question.

He listened to Dragmire’s answer and offered advice and reassurance in front of the WPIX-TV cameras beaming the game back to New York. Those five to ten seconds revealed a steady veteran player doing what he can to get the most from his teammates.

So impressive a moment that Mets analyst Ron Darling praised him for a minute. And, drew an article on here.

The conventional wisdom says Washington’s championship window nearly closes if Bryce Harper leaves for free agency. Utter hogwash.

Yes, the numbers will suffer if Harper leaves. But, team work and intangibles lead to wins. Turner has the talent to emulate Tim Raines as a leadoff hitter. He can steal 70 bases and power 20 home runs. No question he has the potential of dominating the National League at the top of the lineup.

By adjusting on the fly, along with learning how to lead, Turner understands where his future lies.

With the Lerner family willing to spend money while developing talent, the Nats will compete for years to come. Harper stays, even better.

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If not, Turner and Washington will adjust and learn. But, if he starts the year with a better eye at the plate, watch out. He will win an MVP in his career. Maybe in 2018.