Before he appeared in all 162 games in the 2018 campaign, the most games Trea Turner had played in, three seasons into his MLB career, were the 98 he played in 2017.
That year, a then-24-year-old Turner put up a .284/.338/.451 line, 24 doubles, six triples, 11 homers, 46 stolen bases, and 105 wRC+ in 447 plate appearances, over which he was worth 2.8 fWAR.
A hamstring strain early in the season and a fractured wrist in late June that cost Turner 51 games held him back from showing what he could do with a full season’s worth of at bats.
Former Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker was asked in mid-September of that season what it told him about Turner that the shortstop was able to set the franchise mark for steals in just 98 games, topping Alfonso Soriano’s 41 SBs over 159 games in 2006.
“That tells me that I’d like to see him all year,” Baker said. “He’d probably steal 70 or 80, you know what I mean? It’s just a matter of him staying healthy.”
Over the 162 games he played in 2018, with 158 starts, Turner stole just 43 total, however, though he had the second-most in the majors and the most in the National League.
Turner finished his fourth major league season with a .271/.344/.416 line, and career-highs in doubles (27), home runs (19), runs scored (103), and RBIs (73), with 105 wRC+ in what ended up being a 4.8 fWAR season, which was the third-highest fWAR among NL shortstops.
Turner was just the second player in Nationals’ franchise history (2005-present) to appear in all 162 games in a season, tying Ryan Zimmerman, who started in all 162.
At short, Turner’s +2 Defensive Runs Saved, or (“... how many runs a player saved or hurt his team in the field compared to the average player at his position” - via Fangraphs) were the seventh-most among qualified NL shortstops, with Nick Ahmed’s 21 DRS out in Arizona the National League’s best, for the sake of comparison.
Turner’s .981 fielding percentage was tied for third in the NL, along with Colorado’s Trevor Story and Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson, behind only Ahmed (.985) and San Diego shortstop Freddy Galvis (.986).
“He’s had an unbelievable year this year, and kudos to him, and I think he’s only going to get better, I really do,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters late in the 2018 campaign.
“Here’s a guy I think potentially could steal 50-60 bases a year, maybe more, and he’s going to get better at it, he really is. Picking spots when he can run, and actually steal when there’s really an opportunity to steal when it’s not going to be close, those free bases are big for him.”
Turner too said late this season that there was clearly room for improvement.
“There have been games or weeks or stretches where I felt like I could have done a lot better,” he explained, “... from whatever standpoint.”
“I don’t know necessarily power, but just hitting in general, and that’s why this game is so hard, but continue to work.”
He did manage to break his own franchise record for stolen bases, and as mentioned, lead all NL players in steals, which is an accomplishment.
“I try to take pride in everything I do,” Turner said. “Run the bases well, and defense, and obviously hitting. So to be able to lead in any category, whatever it may be — maybe not strikeouts — but any good offensive or defensive or baserunning category is, I think, an accomplishment. There are a lot of great players, and I think it also proves that you’re healthy and able to compete all season, which is the most important.”