In his brief four-year career in the nation’s capital, shortstop Trea Turner has put together an excellent career. Leading the Washington Nationals in the field and the plate, Turner reached career highs in 2018 in games played, hits, home runs, RBIs and season WAR, just to name a few.
Even in a career year at the plate, Turner regressed as far as his average is concerned, as his .271 average was 11 points lower than 2017. A big part of his average dipping is the fact that he played in all 162 games, starting all but four of those games.
Yet again, the Nationals did not make enough headway in the National League East division to make the playoffs, which may end up leading to the expected departure of franchise superstar Bryce Harper. Tasked with becoming one of the new faces of the club, Turner will be called upon to help carry the offensive attack, but with more pressure on him, it may be harder to produce and fill the gaps created by Harper’s departure.
For 2019, Turner needs to set out to become not only a better player but one of the top five in his positional group in the entire league, something that a strong season could easily produce. While already ranked safely in the top 15, Turner has the tools to make that next needed jump, and with Father Time on his side with only being 25 with just over two full years of service time earned, Turner is a prime candidate for a breakout season.
With that in mind, here are three areas that Turner should shoot to excel in for the upcoming season.
Earn your first .300+ average season
With what is becoming the norm in the MLB, players having seasons hitting above .300 at the plate is still an impressive feat, something that Turner has not quite gotten to yet. In what can be considered his first full season not derailed by injury issues, Turner fell 29 points short, not super close but close enough that simple swing changes need to be made to combat that gap.
With the lineup moving around more and Turner’s spot potentially fluctuating now too with the departure of the team’s superstar outfielder, Turner will be expected to shoulder some of that load and should be able to step in and hold his own.
Hitting .300 would be an immense jump for him, but Turner’s plate patience and discipline has improved over his first four seasons in the league, and can only get better from here with increased tutelage which should include launch angles and the unhinging of his hidden power.
Join the 25/100 club
Having hit 44 home runs in his career and having driven in 159 runs in his career, Turner is just scraping the surface for his offensive potential. But 2019 should produce offensive numbers that rival his career totals.
By hitting 25 dingers and driving in 100, Turner would solidify himself as a middle of the order option for the team, helping the lineup achieve a new sense of fluidity that they have not had recently. With the team’s uber dependance on Harper to produce all of their offense, by getting Turner to grow into the player he was drafted to be this season would be a great coup for Washington, who is now looking to couple rookie darling Juan Soto with another franchise cornerstone.
Play well enough to leave D.C.
While not necessarily a specific result or achievable criteria, Turner could play himself out of the nation’s capital due to his increased performance levels. If the team is to fall back from its last season’s results and rely too much on its starting pitching to carry itself through the season, Turner could become one of the juiciest pieces on the trade market come July or in the 2019-2020 offseason.
Not necessarily saying that the Nationals would ever want to get rid of Turner, but if this team falls into a rut that can only be erased by going into full rebuild mode, they would be smart to at least begin to entertain any and all trade offers from interested teams. Buying into a player who is still getting paid arbitration levels for a few more years is always appetizing to teams, and any deal for Turner would at least resemble the deal that just went down between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies for superstar backstop J.T. Realmuto.
Not only for personal betterment and team results, an improved 2019 season for Turner could pay dividends for him down the road, as he could be moving teams in the near future to a team that has plans of competing and competing for a long time. Turner plays a premium position and one that teams value, so if his offensive output increased this season, watch out for Turner to rise up positional rankings.