Nationals shortstop Trea Turner stole his 40th base of the season Wednesday night in an 8-2 loss to the Braves. That would be impressive for an everyday player who had logged 130 or so games by this time of the season.
But Turner missed a combined 61 games due to a broken wrist and a hamstring strain. He has stolen 40 bases in just 379 plate appearances this season. 130 games? Umm, no. Turner has played in 83 total games.
Oh, the possibilities!
“Oh yeah, he was on pace to lead this league in stolen bases, and then he had an unforeseen broken wrist,” said manager Dusty Baker. “We all know that Trea’s a player and he’s an impact player. When he’s out there, we feel better, and the pitcher on the other team feels worse.”
A prime example of giving the opposing pitcher that queasy feeling arrived in his third at-bat following a single. Further displaying his speed, Turner went first to third in the sixth on an error by Braves starter Luiz Gohara.
Turner is now the second player in Nationals history (2005-present) with 40 steals in a season. Alfonso Soriano stole a team-record 41 bases in 2006.
“I think you can’t steal first,” Turner said. “You know you’re stealing 40 or 50 bases, whatever it is, then you get on first quite a bit to have those opportunities. The way I look at it, being on base is good for the team. That’s what I’m taking away from it.”
So with 17 games remaining, could Turner get to 50 as his next goal?
“If it’s there I want to take it or it’s not the right time, don’t take it,” Turner reasoned. “Whatever the game gives you. I don’t think you can really set goals for yourself. Like if you have a goal of whatever it is and you get hurt and you don’t meet that goal did you fail? I don’t know. I just try to take advantage of the opportunities and whatever it ends up being, it ends up being.”
Turner ended up 3-for-4 on the night with three singles and two runs scored. His average moved to .285. He had struggled a bit in his rehab games to get his swing back, but since his return to the Nats August 29, he has hit .316 (18-for-57) with six doubles, two triples, two homers and eight RBIs.
Is Turner feeling back to full health because he has gotten his swing back? He believes, as the roster does as well, that these next 17 games are about getting and staying healthy.
“I think health is huge. That’s one of the things that we’re, not concerned about, but are focused on, is just getting everybody healthy and strong,” Turner said. “I think we take this time to get in the weight room and get rested up and get to back to where you were when you were in spring training or try to.
“Be ready to hit the ground running when those games come. Obviously, we get the at-bats under our belt and get the reps that we need but taking a day here or there for some guys is probably really good. I think that’s an advantage for us. Some teams don’t have that advantage, they got to play till the end of the year and we do too but we have a little bit of that cushion so that’s nice to get some guys rested and be ready.”
Further proof that Turner is rolling? He has hit safely in six of his last seven games. During this run, he is 12-for-28 (.429) with two doubles, two home runs, one triple, eight runs and six RBIs.
One step to that return to health for the rest of the club occurred Wednesday night with Jayson Werth back the lineup. He had missed a few games with a sore shoulder. Werth went 1-for-3 with a double.
Now the focus turns to a certain right fielder who won the National league MVP in 2015 – Bryce Harper – getting back to close to full strength in time for October 6. That game is 22 days away.