When the Philadelphia Phillies inked Trea Turner to an 11-year $300 million deal in December, the belief was that they added an All-Star caliber player to an already talented roster. Turner is, after all, a two-time All-Star, has won a batting title, and a Silver Slugger Award in his nine years in the Major Leagues.
Fans caught a glimpse of what they could have in Turner during the World Baseball Classic when he had a tournament leading five home runs and sported an OPS of 1.483. The success from the spring has not translated to the regular MLB season so far, however. Through the first 43 games of the 2023 season, Turner is slashing .262/.308/.399. His strikeout rate is also the highest it has been since his rookie season. At 26.7%, Turner's strikeout rate is almost 5% higher than the Major League average.
Turner has found himself down 0-2 in the count in 46 of his 195 plate appearances. He has been behind in the count 69 times so far this season. Getting down in the count early in an at-bat is a huge advantage to the pitcher in every scenario. Turner has been swinging at bad pitches and taking strikes which is setting him up to be at a disadvantage too many times.
Trea Turner will likely turn it around for Phillies
There is reason for optimism in Turner's case. It is not uncommon for players to start out slow. Kyle Schwarber is a prime example of this. Last season Phillies fans saw Schwarber start out cold but go on a torrent streak in the month of June. At this point "June Schwarber" could be trademarked as he notoriously heats up in the early summer.
Turner, over the course of his career, has started out slower in the early months of the season. In March and April, Turner is a career .287 hitter. In May, he has hit .275. Both are lower than his overall career batting average.
While he has performed lower than both of those numbers to begin 2023, trends indicate that he will heat up in the summer. In June, July, August, and September, Turner's career batting averages are at or above .300 with his OPS climbing to above .800. He also has a hit in every game in May with apart from one.
"It’s not doing too much, I know I’m a good player, but it’s things I’ve been good at in the past I’m not doing well. Two-strike hitting. I’m striking out way too much. It’s little things. It’s more annoying than anything for me individually."- via Todd Zolecki
Turner knows what he has to do. He needs a reset and needs to improve his approach at the plate. He is too good of a hitter to stay mired in his early season slump. Look for Turner to go on a hot streak sooner rather than later.