Trea Turner did not produce up to his standards or the Philadelphia Phillies standards for the first four months of the 2023 season. When he signed an 11-year $300 million contract in December, the expectations were at an all-time high. After all, Turner was a career .295 hitter and has been one of baseball's premier shortstops since entering the league in 2015.
The start of the season did not meet anyone's expectations. Turner was frustrated by his lack of production as much as Phillies fans were. From Opening Day through August 4th, the shortstop hit just .236 and his K% was 23.8%— significantly higher than his career average at 18.7%. The guy the club signed to get on base simply was not doing what he was brought in to do. Frustration mounted and Turner certainly heard his share of boos from the Philly faithful when he came up short in big spots. During postgame interviews, it was clear that the usually productive player had lost his confidence.
Following a seven-game road trip at the end of July, ideas began to circulate through social media that the fans should give Turner a standing ovation to show that they have his back when the Phillies returned home to face the Kansas City Royals on August 4th. It was all the talk of sports radio and caused much debate among fans in Philadelphia. Philly is not a place that cheers ineffectiveness, so why start now?
When Turner stepped to the plate for the first time the fans did rise to support their struggling player. The support did not go unnoticed by Turner and other Phillies players. Turner revealed what the ovation meant to him postgame:
"I thought it was pretty [freaking] cool. The fans have my back. They’re showing up for me. It’s pretty cool to see."- via Todd Zolecki/ MLB.com
Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos added:
"That’s how a relationship is built between a player and the city he plays for. Just knowing that they have his back and they want him to succeed, that they’re pulling for him."- via Todd Zolecki/ MLB.com
Whether it was the ovation or Turner just finding his groove, something clicked after that game. Since August 5th, he is hitting .348 with 178 wRC+ and his OBP has climbed to .392— a significant increase from the .289 OBP prior to August 5th.
Turner's increased production has helped propel the Phillies' offense. Since August 5th the club has scored 108 runs— second most behind the potent Atlanta Braves' offense— and has hit the most home runs in baseball (39).
Turner is just too good of a player to have remained mired in a slump. His career numbers all point to the fact that he was due to return to the player was in past seasons at some point. It took longer than the Phillies and Turner wanted, but it appears that the shortstop is back on track. Turner's whole attitude has changed as well. It is noticeable that he is more confident and is having fun on the field again— as was evident in Tuesday night's walk off victory against the San Francisco Giants.
Did Philadelphia fans' support help revive Turner's season? That is something no one will likely ever know, but it certainly did not hurt. The club was in desperate need of an offensive injection and Turner getting hot at the right time is massive for the Phillies' chances of making the postseason. The shortstop will be in Philadelphia for the next decade so showing him support and getting production from a star player is what this team needed.