When Trea Turner thought about his season at the end of September, he did not resort to his 43 steals in the National League, or his 19 home-career highs or the fact that he played in each of the 162 Washington Nationals.
He did not care how impressive it all was. Instead, the Nationals considered that they had all the positions he swung but should not have. These are the moments, the hundreds of them, that were in his head.
"I think from the point of view of the approach, I expected to swing too much this season," Turner said a week before the Nationals ended 82-80 and eight games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. "I went into many clubs, as if the thrower would come directly into the zone. I think it's stupid to throw myself around and risk going with me because I can immediately try to steal. But I'm not a pitcher, of course, and I've seen far more blows outside of the strike zone than I thought, and I do not think I've adjusted well enough.
"I could have taken many more walks, and that could have resulted in more steals and could help our club a lot more. There is so much that is in every fight with the talent of these pitchers, and I'm just trying to work through the little things that make the difference. "
There are reasons for pitchers to be cautious with the 25-year-old gymnast whose 185-pound frame does not match the performance he puts on the record. This was the first time he had played more than 100 games in one season and he finished 180 hits, 103 runs, 73 RBI and an average of 271. He also had the second-best steals in the entire baseball field, finishing two close to Kansas City Royals, the second baseman Whit Merrifield, but Turner believes that more patience on the plate and a sharper approach could have boosted the total significantly.
Turner is a crucial part of the future of the Nationals – regardless of whether this option includes free-agent Bryce Harper or not – and is one of the many reasons to believe that this team can recover from a disappointing 2018. If Harper is eliminated with the Nationals, and that's right Field outfitter Adam Eaton has either been pulled out of a starting position or squeezed out, Turner could replace Eaton as an everyday hit. If Harper does not return, Turner will be one of the many players responsible for replacing the oversized production of the star outfield player. An additional disc discipline would definitely go a long way.
"You do not want to put too much in your head. At the end of the day you have to respond and take what you have got on the plate, "said Turner. "But I need to know how Jugs move towards me after playing for a couple of years and having a full season under me. I'm going there. "
A closer look at Turner's statistics from 2018 suggests that he may be too self-critical. This is a common trend for professional athletes. In the past season, he was actually one of the more disciplined shortstops in the entire baseball area, as he was only 26.6 percent outside the zone, according to FanGraphs. Oakland Athletics' Marcus Semien was the only regular shortstop with a lower rate than Turner's in this category (26.2).
Turner was ranked third out of all shortstops at 69 – behind only Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor, who each finished 70 – the fifth-best Underlying (.344) among the shortstops with 400 or more record appearances. He had the second most frequent record appearances in the entire league, giving him a chance to increase his overall walks, but his patience stood out despite the increased possibilities. And yet Turner steals the overall number he has noticed, even though he has become one of the league's most effective base runners. He expected to over 43 bags, and thought that the achievement of his unspecified goal is mainly due to his approach to the plate.
He did not have to look far to see a high standard of disciplines in 2018 when Harper and rookie Juan Soto showed this from night to night. Remarkably, Soto was only 21.9 paces outside the strike zone, ending with 79 walks at age 19. Harper has been on the road for years, leading the NL with 130 career courses. Turner's walk percentage of 9.3, a statistic that measures a player's walks relative to the number of record appearances, was behind Harper (18.7 percent), Soto (16 percent), and Backup Catcher Spencer Kieboom (11) , 2 percent in 143 recordings) catcher Matt Wieters (11.1 in 271 record appearances), Eaton (10.3 percent) and Pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds (10.2 percent in 235 record appearances).
Seeing himself as a promising runaway and producing running players with a mix of disc discipline and speed, Turner wants to make significant improvements in this area.
"It's not just about going for more walks, because of course I'd like to beat a little better and improve my average, and then you're also more based," Turner said. "But I feel like I do not want to chase pitches that are out of the zone, or too aggressive to be in the lead in the overall standings. I can really control that. That's what I'm going to scrutinize in the off-season. "
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