Three reasons to love Trea Turner

Nats star has crazy speed, sneaky power and sneakier dance moves

October 22nd, 2019

The Nationals have stars for days. They have a manic ace in . They have quiet heroes like and . A wunderkind in

But shortstop  has been lightning in a bottle ever since he stuck with Washington for good four summers ago. You remember that summer, when Turner, after learning to play center field on the fly, forced his way into the everyday lineup by hitting -- and swiping -- everything in sight. He won the National League’s Rookie of the Month Award in August 2016 after hitting .357 and stealing 11 bases in 14 tries. He stole 15 more bases in September, giving him 33 in just 73 games for the year and vaulting him to second place in NL Rookie of the Year voting. And ever since, Turner has been the old-school sparkplug -- the get-him-on-base-and-let-him-go, pitcher-agitating Tazmanian Devil -- atop a Nats lineup filled with boppers.

The 2019 World Series is packed with ace pitchers and powerful sluggers, but here’s why we love Turner -- and why our eyes will be glued on him -- in the Fall Classic.

Vitals: Standing 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, the NC State alum moved back to his natural shortstop position in 2017 and has manned that spot for Washington ever since. Now 26 years old, Turner is a career .291 hitter with an .815 OPS that’s been 10% better than league average, per OPS+.

The first thing we think of: Speed. Pure speed.

Turner has played his entire career under Statcast tracking, convenient for us because that means we can quantify just how fast he is. An average sprint speed of at least 30 feet per second is Statcast’s benchmark for elite MLB footspeed; only eight qualified position players, including Turner, hit that average threshold this season. In fact, Turner and Twins star Byron Buxton are the only two qualified players who clocked in at 30-plus in each of Statcast’s first five seasons.

And Turner isn’t getting any slower with “age”: Despite playing only 122 games thanks to a broken index finger, he still recorded nearly twice as many bolts, or basepath runs with a 30-plus ft/sec sprint speed, as any other player in baseball. If more traditional stats are your thing, Turner won the NL steals title last year with 43, and came eight shy of that total in 2019 despite playing 40 fewer games.

OK, so that’s a lot of numbers, but really the thrill of watching Trea Turner comes in watching him with your own two eyes. Let’s turn back the clock to June 27, 2017, when Turner stole four bases against the Cubs (nine days after he stole another four bases against the Mets, by the way), and drive the visiting North Siders absolutely crazy. This was the game that inspired Cubs catcher Miguel Montero to criticize Jake Arrieta’s slow delivery to the plate -- which inspired the Cubs to designate Montero for assignment the next day.

After honing his craft with former Nationals coach (and 1970s baserunning legend) Davey Lopes, Turner has put himself on every opposing backstop’s radar as soon as he reaches the on-deck circle. He’s got speed and style (his slick, swim-move slide last summer earned him kudos from none other than Olympic champion swimmer Katie Ledecky), and he can turn the tide of a game simply by making it to first base and doing his thing.

Here’s Trea stealing home in 2016 after his teammate got caught in a rundown (he tripled to get himself to third base, by the way) …

… and here he is leading off against the Mets last year with a bunt single and stolen base in the blink of an eye -- when the first-pitch temperature was 42 degrees.

It seems like every spring, fans (including me) want Turner to steal even more bases than he already does. Baseball features more and more sluggers these days, but he still a guy who wreaks havoc on the bases.

What big leaguers say: “Sometimes it seems like he’s faster than the ball,” former Nationals catcher Matt Wieters told Sports Illustrated in 2016.

What you might not know: Turner’s not a slap hitter anymore; he can jack balls out of the park. In July, he set a career best with this 453-foot blast to left-center, which left his bat at 109.4 mph.

He can also go down below the strike zone and golf one out over the bullpens.

Turner set full-season bests in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, barrel rate and slugging percentage, and he still doesn’t turn 27 until next June.

One more thing you should know: Turner’s got some dance moves. Well, sort of.

He’s fairly stoic on the field, but occasionally Turner will bust a move like this “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”-inspired dance after he hits a big homer.

And we’re not quite sure what this was, but we loved it.

The dance parties in the Nationals’ dugout were one of the most fun and unexpected developments of this season, and while Turner’s celebrations might be a bit goofy, we’re 100% here for it.

Turner hasn’t attempted a steal this postseason (though he’s contributed at the plate, batting .289), and we’re hoping that changes in the World Series. One of the Nationals’ best attacks against Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke might be to let Turner loose on the bases.