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Nationals’ leadoff man Trea Turner: A rare combination of speed and power

Dusty Baker talked Trea Turner up after the 23-year-old rookie scored both runs in the Nationals’ 2-1 win over the Marlins.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Trea Turner singled to lead off the bottom of the first in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park, moved up a groundout and scored on Bryce Harper’s RBI single. In the bottom of the fifth, Turner, 23, homered for the 13th time in 2016, taking Marlins’ left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to left for a solo blast that ended up being the winning run.

Turner drew a walk to lead off the eighth as well, and stole his 32nd base of the season in his rookie campaign. He ended the day 2 for 3, leaving him with a .342/.367/.569 line, 14 doubles, eight triples, 13 home runs and 32 steals in 38 attempts.

Turner’s 13 HRs in 72 games in the majors this season are four more than he hit over 143 games between Double-A, Triple and the majors last season, in his first full pro campaign.

“That tells me that he has tremendous bat speed,” Dusty Baker said when asked about the 6’1’’, 185-pound infielder/outfielder’s ability to hit them out.

“He’s a combination, just like I’ve always said,” Baker explained, “the combination of speed and power which is rare these days. You don’t know if he’s going to top one, bunt one, get a walk, steal and the opposition doesn’t know either, so they’re going to try to get ahead of him. They don’t want to get behind him cause they don’t want to walk him, because of his speed, so one complements the other.”

Turner’s stolen base came on a delayed steal, when he took off on Marlins’ catcher Jeff Mathis after a pitch from Marlins’ righty David Phelps.

“Being a fast guy, everyone’s worried about you stealing, and when you don’t steal, they kind of let their guard down a little bit,” Turner said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo.

“It’s a weapon that I need to use every once in a while.”

Baker said the delayed steal was Turner’s decision, or, at least, not his own.

“Most of the time when you delayed steal usually it’s a guy that doesn’t run very fast,” Baker explained. “You catch them by surprise, or the catcher drops to his knees before he throws it back to the pitcher. You have to really time that or else you’re going to be out by a mile. You have to really pay attention in the game to know when to go. That’s one of the things I never mastered. That’s a unique art right there.”

Turner has impressed on the basepaths, in center and at second, wherever he’s played defensively, and at the plate, where he’s adjusted to adjustments opposing pitchers have made early in his time in the majors.

That’s a process that will continue to play out.

“It’s going to be a constant adjustment,” Baker said. “That’s the secret to staying around in the big leagues, is that you have to constantly adjust.

“Every team is not going to pitch you the same and you try to find out what the team’s opinion of you is, whether you like it or not.

“Maybe it’s one team doesn’t think you can hit changeups, another team doesn’t think you can hit fastballs in. They’re going to try everything. Like I’ve said before, that’s why I admire the greats of the game that have played 20 years, because there is nothing that hasn’t been tried on them. And I’ve seen guys come in this league and tear it up and don’t make the adjustments and then they’re home driving a truck or something two years from now. That’s what the league is all about, is constantly adjusting to what they’re doing to you.”

Up next is seeing how Turner adjusts to the pressure of postseason baseball. He hasn’t been fazed by anything he’s come up against thus far in his career.

• We talked about Trea Turner, the Nationals clinching home field advantage and more on Nats Nightly: