During the Nationals‘ 7-2 win over the Braves on Friday (box score), Washington rookie Trea Turner went 4 for 5 with a homer and a double. In his first plate appearance against the Braves on Saturday (WAS-ATL GameTracker), he homered again. After that blast, the 23-year-old is now batting .352/.372/.572 with 29 extra-base hits in 261 plate appearances.
As you’ll observe, Turner hasn’t played a full season for the Nats. He was called up on June 3 for two-game stay and then spent the next month-plus back in Triple-A. On July 10, he was recalled for good. In all, he’s played in just 59 games, 56 of them starts.
Nope, not Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa, or Jayson Werth. Coming into Saturday’s tilt, Turner had already racked up a 2016 WAR of 3.3, and you can of course nudge that higher after his leadoff homer against the Braves.
The gaudy slash line above is what’s made up most of Turner’s value. However, there’s more to him than “just” an impact bat. Turner’s seen time at three critical positions — center, second base, and short — and played significant time at the first two. Since the middle of August, though, he’s settled in as the Nationals’ starting center fielder, and he’s looked quite capable out there. So he’s got the ability to man multiple premium positions.
And then there’s his base-running. Turner, thanks largely to his top-of-the-scale speed, has already stolen 26 bases against just four times caught. As well, he’s taken the extra base 57 percent of the time versus a league-average mark of 40 percent.
Need more? He’s hit in to only one double play. Scale his numbers to a 162-game pace and he’d have 53 steals and 11 triples.
To be sure, Turner doesn’t figure to continue hitting like this. He’s running a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of more than .400, and that’s not going to continue. On the other hand, he’s genuinely hitting the ball hard. He’s besting the league averages in terms of velocity off the bat and average distance of batted balls. Also, just 15.8 percent of his batted balls this season have been classified as “soft-hit.” That’s set against an average MLB mark of 18.7 percent.
Even after the offensive numbers regress, though, Turner will still add significant value with his defensive flexibility and base-running.
Regardless of what’s ahead, there’s no undoing the value that he’s already contributed to the eventual NL East champs. Turner hasn’t been around long in Washington, but he’s made a huge difference.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Nationals rookie Trea Turner continues making a big impact in his short career