Turner makes jump forward at plate, now wants to sharpen defense

One Nationals player who stayed consistent on offense and made good contact throughout the season was shortstop Trea Turner.

Regardless of where manager Davey Martinez hit Turner in the lineup, he delivered.

Batting first in the lineup, Turner hit .340. Batting second, he hit .323. And for the four games he hit third, the former N.C. State infielder batted .333.

Against left-handed pitching, Turner hit .375, and against right-handers, he hit .322.

That is consistency.

Turner said he got off to a slow start defined by a .259 average. But in August, he roasted pitching to the tune of a .408 average and a .465 on-base percentage.

A lot of the pitches Turner connected with went to the opposite field. And his power numbers were solid. His slugging percentage of .588 was the best of his career, albeit in 59 games. Turner connected on 15 doubles, four triples and 12 homers with 41 RBIs.

Over a 162-game season, the home run number would be closer to 33. The most homers he ever hit in a full season was 19 (both in 2018 and 2019).

Turner-Swings-Gold-Sidebar.jpg"It's just backing the ball up and I think makes you make better decisions," Turner said of his growth at the plate this season. "It's still tough, though, especially in this ballpark. For me, I've hit balls the opposite way pretty well and they've ended up being outs. It's hard to like buy into your approach when you're doing everything right and still not seeing some results at times. But if you stick it out and remain the course, I feel like over a long season, it's going to show up and it has showed up for me.

"I started off a little slow but then stuck with it and kind of took off after that. It's not necessarily hitting the ball the other way, but just backing the ball up and being OK with hitting the ball the other way. I'm not necessarily hoping to hit the ball the other way, I'm trying to hit the ball where it is pitched, but just making good decisions and relaxing at the plate a little but is helping me do all that."

He was right about how hard it is to hit at Nats Park. Turner had a .267 average and an .850 OPS at home, while on the road, he jumped to a .407 average with a 1.124 OPS.

Martinez also noticed the leadership skill make itself evident in Turner, as the 27-year-old worked most noticeably with getting rookie Luis García up to speed.

"Not only on the field but in the clubhouse," Martinez said. "Everything that he does, he has matured so much. He's become a leader and it shows. Another guy that had tremendous year through a difficult season but came out and played hard every day. (Sunday) was a testament to him. He wanted to play the whole game. That's just what you are going to get from Trea."

Martinez said he has something special in Turner and Juan Soto. Now the offseason plan is finding a bat that can go behind them so they don't get cheated at the plate and get better pitches to hit.

"I appreciate those two guys just like I appreciate the rest of these guys for coming out every day this year and giving me everything they got," Martinez said.

So what's the next step for Turner? Can he maintain this consistency? Can he get better as a hitter? What about his defense?

"I thought offensively, I made a big jump forward and kind of accomplished what I've wanted to accomplish," Turner said. "I think just honing that same skill set performance and carrying that into next year.

"Defensively, I feel like I need to get a lot better. I feel like I let a lot of plays get away from me. I feel like I should've made a lot more plays defensively, but that's just how the year has gone. It is what it is. But overall, I think I've done a pretty good job trying to improve and kind of build off of it and continue into next year."

A few random notes and some chat about the skipper
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