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Washington Nationals’ Trea Turner on 2020 at the plate; improving at short + more...

Trea Turner was happy with the results at the plate this season, but he said he needs to improve in the field...

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Trea Turner finished the 2020 campaign, his sixth in the majors, with a .335/.394/.588 line, 15 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs, and 12 stolen bases in a total of 59 of 60 games and 259 plate appearances, over which he was worth a team-leading 2.7 fWAR.

Turner’s .956 fielding percentage was down from full seasons of .980 fld% and .971 fld% in the previous two years, respectively, and had him at a career-worst -8 Defensive Runs Saved in the weird COVID season, down from +1 DRS in 2017; +2 in ‘18; and -1 in ‘19 when he helped the Nationals win the World Series.

Turner’s Ultimate Zone Rating, (UZR - The number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs, and error runs combined.”), ended at -2.9 in 479 23 innings, after he finished with a -7.0 UZR in 2018 (1,065.1 innings), after posting a +3.2 UZR (in 1,401 innings) in 2017.

His own assessment of his 2020 campaign seems to fit what the numbers above show.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“I thought I offensively made a big jump forward and kind of accomplished what I wanted to accomplish,” the 27-year-old infielder said.

“I think just honing that same skill set, or performance, kind of honed that a little bit more and carry that into next year, and defensively I feel I need to get a lot better.

“I feel like I let a lot plays get away from me. I feel like I should have made a lot more plays defensively, but I think that’s just how the year’s gone and it is what it is. But overall I think I’ve done a pretty good job trying to improve and kind build off of it, and continue it next year.”

Turner is arbitration-eligible for the third straight year this winter, after agreeing on a one-year/$7.45M deal with the Nationals last January, avoiding arbitration, and he’s under team control through the 2022 season, though GM Mike Rizzo has said previously that the team would like to keep him in D.C., and is talking about a signing him to a potential long-term extension with the shortstop’s representatives.

Rizzo said this past weekend, in a press conference announcing manager Davey Martinez’s long-term extension, that Turner is part of the core the Nationals want to build around over the next few years.

“You’re looking at a young player that’s really coming into his own and becoming a real factor in the game. So, he’s a guy that we’ve had discussions in the past, and we would certainly love to continue having those discussions,” Rizzo explained.

Martinez talked over the course of the 2020 campaign about the growth he saw from his shortstop during his time in the nation’s capital over the manager’s three seasons on the bench, and he said it was even more apparent this year, with Turner taking on more of a vocal leadership role in the nation’s capital.

“Honestly, I think he’s more open, he communicates a lot more. You see him on the field talking to Luis García or Carter Kieboom or [Josh Harrison], and positioning and all that stuff,” Martinez explained.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“That’s something that he took it upon himself to be a little bit more vocal this year, and even in the clubhouse.

“He’s going to get really good in the future about just taking control of different situations and having these conversations and having tough conversations when he needs to with his teammates, but he’s been tremendous, I can’t say enough about what he did this year and how he went out there and perceived everything.

“I’m proud of him. He didn’t start off very well, but he battled and he came back and he had such an unbelievable year.”

“I don’t — it’s not that I don’t like it,” Turner said when told of his manager’s comments on his growth as a leader.

“I’m not very vocal,” Turner added. “For me I’ve always tried to kind of lead by example in my play. Just going out there and competing and that standpoint, but everyone once in a while I think you do need to talk, especially if you’re in the middle of the field, and just playing every day. I feel like your voice is important, so I try to balance it, and I try not to talk too much, but I also try to help out especially young guys when I think they need it and I’ll sit in the cage with people and talk about hitting with them.

“I do things more just on a personal level more so than a rah rah level but I think as my career evolves, I think I’ll just try to take advantage of opportunities and helping out teammates if they want it and if they don’t, then I’m here for good job support I guess.

“And I think you just balance that.”

Martinez reiterated after the season finale that he saw growth in every aspect of Turner’s game.

“Like we talked about before, not only on the field, but in the clubhouse, off the field, everything that he does, he’s matured so much, he’s become a leader and it shows.

“Another guy that had a tremendous year through a difficult season, but came out and played hard every day. Today is a testament to him, he wanted to play the whole game.

“Just what you’re going to get from Trea.”

Turner credited his success at the plate, at least in part, with an increased ability to go the other way, talking once he’d finished the truncated campaign, about his mindset, as much as his approach at the plate.

Tampa Bay Rays v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“I think that’s huge,” Turner said.

“It’s just backing the ball up and I think that makes you make better decisions. It’s still tough though, especially in this ballpark, for me, I feel like I’ve hit a lot of balls the opposite way pretty well and they’ve ended up being outs. And it’s hard to buy into I guess your approach when you’re doing everything right and still not seeing results at times, but if you stick it out and remain the course, I feel like over a long season it’s going to show up and it has showed up for me.

“I started off a little slow but then stuck with it and kind of took off after that, so yeah, I think it’s all been not necessarily hitting the ball the other way, but just backing the ball up and being okay with hitting the ball the other way. I’m not necessarily hoping to hit the ball the other way, I’m trying to hit the ball where it’s pitched, but just making good decisions and relaxing at the plate a little bit is helping me do all of that.”