Washington Nationals: Five must-watch players in 2018
By Brian Foley
We’ve rarely seen Turner completely unencumbered while with the Nationals, but when he is fully healthy and playing well, there are few in the game that combine high-end speed with quality power quite like Turner.
In the last two seasons, Turner has swiped 79 bases and popped 24 home runs in just 171 total games. Since 2016, only three players – Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, and Jonathan Villar – have stolen that many bags, though they all did it in at least 66 more games than Turner.
And, while they received many more opportunities at the plate, they do not possess anywhere near the same power abilities. Hamilton and Gordon have combined for just 10 home runs over the past two seasons; Villar has smacked 30 long balls since the start of the 2016 campaign, but he has appeared in 107 more games than Turner over that same span.
If anything, Turner has a little Rickey Henderson in his game. He isn’t quite peak Rickey, when he was routinely nabbing triple-digit steal totals, but prime Rickey (ages 25-34) and today’s Turner have some similarities. During that 10-year stretch, Henderson averaged 18 home runs and 67 steals per season. Don’t expect Turner to keep pace with Henderson through his mid-30’s, but over the next few years, joining the rare 20-60 club seems possible. Only three players have ever hit 20 home runs and stolen 60 bases in a season: Henderson (three times), Joe Morgan (twice), and Eric Davis (Villar fell one home run short in 2016).
Of course, Henderson also posted a career 16.4 percent walk rate, which dwarfs Turner’s 6.7 percent. Getting on base is crucial for a guy with Turner’s blistering speed, so that is the one major area where he still needs to improve.
Still, steals and bombs are two of the most exciting plays in the game, and Turner brings those in spades. If he plays at least 140 games, the dynamic 24-year-old should garner plenty of MVP votes by the end of the season.