How this Phillie turned his season around

September 2nd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

is one of the best players in the world.

Nick Castellanos emphatically reminded him of that on Aug. 2 in Miami, when he found him hitting alone in the batting cage until midnight at loanDepot park. Turner went 0-for-5 and missed a ground ball in the 11th inning in a 12-inning loss to the Marlins, and Turner seemed hellbent on working his way out of his slump.

But it wasn’t the last time Turner heard those words. Bryson Stott still tells him every day.

Like, literally every day?

“Yeah,” Stott said. “Every day. In the cage with Kevin [Long]. I tell him he’s the best shortstop in the world. He was first-team All-World. He even has a trophy to prove it from the WBC. He can’t say I am a liar.”

Stott is not a liar. From 2018-22, Turner had 24.9 WAR, according to FanGraphs. It was the seventh-best mark in baseball behind Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, José Ramírez, Francisco Lindor and Alex Bregman.

Turner has looked like that version of himself in his last 25 games, batting .360 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs and a 1.168 OPS. He hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the eighth inning Friday in Milwaukee, only to watch the Phillies blow their second consecutive late-inning lead.

“He’s the same as Bryce [Harper],” Stott said. “It’s like nothing really surprises you. His swing, it plays so well. It was only a matter of time before it was going to be like this.”

Everybody points to the standing ovations Turner received on Aug. 4 at Citizens Bank Park as a key moment to his turnaround. No question it helped. But what exactly has changed for Turner at the plate?

A couple things jump out:

Turner is chasing fewer pitches out of the zone and swinging at more pitches in the zone.

Through Aug. 3:
• 36.3 percent chase rate

• 72.4 percent swing rate on in-zone pitches

• 78.5 percent swing rate on pitches in the heart of the strike zone

Since Aug. 4 (entering Friday):
• 29.6 percent chase rate 

• 77.2 percent swing rate on in-zone pitches 

• 81.6 percent swing rate on pitches in the heart of the strike zone

Turner’s chase rate since Aug. 4 is identical to his chase rate from 2020-22 (29.6 percent).

Turner is not only swinging at more in-zone pitches, but he is doing way more damage when he swings at them.

In-zone pitches through Aug. 3:
• .283 batting average

• .463 slugging percentage

• 15 K%

• 7.5 percent barrel rate

In-zone pitches since Aug. 4:
• .418 batting average (+135 points)

• .899 slugging percentage (+436 points)

• 10.3 K%

• 16.7 percent barrel rate

His performance against in-zone pitches since Aug. 4 is more in line with what he has done in the past, albeit better. He batted .344 with a .581 slugging percentage, 11.3 K% and 9.1 percent barrel rate on in-zone pitches from 2020-22.

“Playing better, feeling better, it's been more normal and it definitely translated on the field,” Turner said. “And you know, [the ovations] kickstarted it so, good month, keep it rolling and just keep that same feeling that I had for the 26-or-so days and making those adjustments and competing and having fun.”