clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Trea Turner knows he needs to improve his defensive game...

New, 2 comments

Nationals’ shortstop Trea Turner talked on Tuesday about his desire to improve on the defensive end of things...

Trea Turner finished 2019’s 162-game campaign at -1 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), with DRS measuring, “... how many runs a player saved or hurt his team in the field compared to the average player at his position,” as defined by Fangraphs.

Turner ended up ranked 14th in the majors among qualified shortstops in DRS. He finished the 2019 season at -5.5 Range Runs (RngR), which Fangraphs defines as the, “number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity.”

His Ultimate Zone Rating, (-7.0 UZR), which measures 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,” was 19th among qualified major league shortstops.

Turners’s fielding percentage (.971 fld%) was 15th in the majors, and his 13th errors were tied for the 11th most among big league shortstops.

In 2020’s 60-game campaign, Turner finished up at -7 DRS (which was 20th among qualified big league shortstops), and at -0.5 RngR (13th), with a -2.9 UZR (19th), a .956 fld% (18th), and nine errors, which were the second-most.

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

Of course, Turner also put up a .335/.394/.588 line on the offensive side of the game, which left him ranked 1st in the majors across the line among qualified shortstops, and he finished up at 2.7 fWAR, behind only Fernando Tatís, Jr. (2.9) in the majors. His 12 home runs were the third most in the majors, his 46 runs scored were third, his 12 stolen bases were fourth, and his 158 wRC+ were tops.

“He definitely has potential to grow and get better,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said this week, when he was asked to assess Turner’s 2020 season as a whole and suggest some areas where there is room for growth in the shortstop’s game.

“I have always told him he’s one of the most exciting players in the game, he really is. The things that he can do out there, the sky is the limit, and the good thing is he wants to get better. He wants to be the best. As far as I see him, as we all know I thought he was a candidate to be an MVP last year, and he’s only going to get better, and I think the one thing — the one thing that he understands is that he needs to get better on defense, and like I said that’s going to be his focus this spring, that he wants to get better.

“We’re going to be here for him. He wants to do it. He’s out there every day, he’s been coming out early every day, and he’s going to get better.”

Turner, 27, acknowledged his defensive struggles when he too spoke to reporters from West Palm Beach, FL on Tuesday.

“I liked a lot of things,” Turner said in giving his own assessment of his 2020 season.

“Obviously, the defense I want to work on. I felt like in the past I had been a good defender and I wanted to improve my offense, and now going in this year, it almost seems like the opposite. But I say it every year, and I’ve always done it, always tried to do it, and it’s kind of who I am, so that’s what I repeat it a lot, but try to improve on everything. I’m trying to continue offensively what I did last year. I think I made a lot of good steps there and I think I can make some more. And then same thing defensively and baserunning-wise. I think defensively I struggled a little bit, but I think they are easily-correctable and just getting that confidence out there and getting the reps down and getting back into the swing of things.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

“Spring Training 2.0 was a little different, so getting ready for the season was a little weird, but now we got a full season ahead of us, I think it will be good to get back in that routine and improve on all the little things I kind of want to knock out.”

His manager, in discussing what he saw from the shortstop, said it’s more about remaining engaged and relaxed on the defensive end of things.

“My biggest thing and he knows that, and we talk about it all the time, is just stay engaged out in the field and just make the routine plays,” Martinez explained.

“Some of the things that I’ve seen with him [are] just kind of mental. He tries to get a little too quick with everything, so just as he does as a hitter, slow everything down on the field and just concentrate on making routine plays. And when he does that he’s going to be really good. I challenge all these guys, as I’ve said before, to be a Gold Glover, and I really believe that he can become that guy. It’s nice to know that he’s open about it, he talks about it and he wants to get better, and he and [bench coach Tim Bogar] have worked diligently and they have already to make him better. And he’s going to get better.”

Going into 2021, as Turner said, he’s determined to keep things up offensively while making a few improvements defensively, and he said on Tuesday that he is excited about the lineup additions that should help the offense in the nation’s capital overall.

“I love it,” he said of the work GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office did to try to address the roster needs they identified.

“I feel like every year people are telling [Rizzo] what to do, who to to sign,” Turner added, “all these things, and then he gets creative and builds a great team each and every year. I got a lot of respect for what he does.

“When you see those moves you think nothing, we’re quiet, or we’re not going to do this or that, and then you get a big bat like Josh Bell and another big bat like [Kyle] Schwarber, and you start putting the pieces together and you can see how we can win a lot of baseball games.

“We’ve got to come out here and put the work in and come together as a team, but the pieces are there, the talent is there, and I was excited about it from the get-go, because I think Rizzo does such a good job every year.”

Hear that, Rizzo? That sounds like a shortstop who likes your work and wants to sign a long-term extension.