CHICAGO - Trea Turner legged out an infield single to open Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field. In doing so, he extended his career-high streak of games reaching base to 31.
And then he went and reached base three more times, scored two runs and stole a base a help lead the Nationals to a 7-2 win over the Cubs.
“It’s just fun scoring runs,” he said. “It’s fun winning, too.”
Yes, it is. And Turner has done just as much to help the Nationals win a lot of games this summer as anyone else on the roster.
This on-base streak is merely the statistical evidence of that. Turner now has the longest active on-base streak in the majors. He also owns the fifth-longest such streak in club history, still 15 games shy of Jayson Werth’s mark from 2016.
Turner is doing this in all manner of ways. He’s batting .341 (45-for-132). He’s slugging .538 (six doubles, one triple, six homers). His on-base percentage is .407 (thanks to 15 walks and a hit by pitch). He’s scored 29 runs, driven in 20 runs and stolen seven bases.
What stands out the most about this recent run?
“He’s taking his walks,” manager Davey Martinez said. “And the biggest thing is, with two strikes, he’s actually finding a way to put the ball in play. It’s been good. It’s been working. When he gets on base, he creates havoc. And usually when he’s on there, especially early, he tends to score. He’s doing a great job in the leadoff spot right now.”
Martinez is right. Turner is taking his walks. Prior to this streak, he walked in only 7.4 percent of his plate appearances. During it, he’s walked in 10 percent of them. But he’s really improved putting the bat on the ball with two strikes. His strikeout rate prior to the streak was a hefty 23.9 percent. During the streak, it’s 14.7 percent.
Has Turner suddenly become a better hitter with two strikes?
“I think I was just bad before,” he said. “I don’t think I’m necessarily better. I think I was striking out at a higher rate this year than I ever had, and I don’t know why. But lately, I haven’t been striking out as much, and I think that’s just getting back to normal. Just seeing the ball, making good decisions and trusting my eyes. If I think a pitch is a ball, take it. Don’t try to do something with it that you shouldn’t.”