We continue to look through each member of the Washington Nationals in our 2018 Report Cards. Trea Turner is next, who took the next step in his career.
The 2018 Report Cards continue at District on Deck with Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner. He was finally able to enjoy a full season at the big leagues and seemed to elevate himself to the next level.
Turner became just the second National to appear in all 162 games after Ryan Zimmerman achieved the feat back in 2007. The NC State product showcased an excellent all-around game this year, with 19 home runs, 43 stolen bases while showcasing great defense at shortstop.
The sky really could be the limit for Turner, as he possesses all of the tools to continue to shine. We look at the positives and areas to improve on from his 2018 season below.
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The Positives for Turner
Despite not even making the gold glove finalists in 2018, it was clear that Trea Turner was able to take a big step forward in terms of his defensive ability at shortstop. He finished fourth among National League shortstops in FanGraphs Defensive Rating, which combines several defensive factors, but for Turner, his rating is higher due to his elite range at shortstop. He made the most Out of Zone plays in the entire NL, which means that he was able to fully utilize his speed in the field to cover the most ground. An impressive feat for Turner, and if he can become more efficient on his throws he may move into gold glove consideration.
As a potential leadoff hitter of the future, it’s paramount for Trea Turner to find a way on base at every opportunity. While some of that can be done using his speed to beat out groundballs, walks are slowly becoming a bigger part of his game. His upped his walk rate from 6.7 percent in 2017 to a much more impressive 9.3 percent in 2018. This seemed to come from his ability to work the count better, as he fouled off tough pitches more often when his contact rate outside the strike zone jumped from 59.8 percent to 67.7 percent. For a player like Turner, walks can turn into doubles in a flash, so improving his plate discipline is a fantastic sight.
Areas for Improvement
It seems hard to criticize someone who stole a whopping 43 bases, but for someone with Turner’s raw speed, that total is arguably a bit low. He seemed to have a tendency to go on dry spells when it came to steals, with a 23 game stretch without a stolen base between June 30th and July 27th. He also only had two steals between April 30th and May 30th, but it’s not quite clear what caused these extended slumps as he was able to swipe 46 last season in just 98 games. Hopefully, he can return to 2017 form which would set him up for a total in the 65-75 range.
As Contributor Ross Shinberg talked about previously, Turner’s power is slowly slipping away from his sensational rookie campaign levels. In 2016, he hit 13 home runs, eight triples, and 14 doubles in just 73 games and appeared as if he was heading for stardom. But this year in more than double the games, he hit just 19 homers, six triples, and 27 doubles. As Shinberg talks about in his piece, while the raw power is still there, it may be reasonable to not expect him to get back to his rookie levels.
The Final Grade
Even though Trea Turner had a great season by all accounts, it still feels like we’re only scratching the surface of his potential. The Nats still have four years of control over their shortstop, so there’s plenty of time for him to advance himself to the game’s elite at the position.
But back to 2018 in which he went through his peaks and troughs during the year, but the final line backs up how good a year it was. And make no mistake, playing in all 162 games shouldn’t go overlooked as a fantastic achievement too. A-
Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.