As a sports fan, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing your team spend a bunch of money on a player and he immediately stinks.
Sometimes, when the player is old and already declining, you can see it coming. Other times, it comes out of nowhere and seems to happen for no reason.
Trea Turner definitely falls into the second camp. When you sign a 29-year-old to a fat contract, you think you’d at least get a few good years out of him, and you certainly don’t expect him to fall apart overnight.
Unfortunately, that’s what’s happened to Trea Turner. When the Phillies signed him to a $300 million contract last offseason, we thought we were getting one of the best players in baseball. Instead, he’s been one of the worst everyday hitters in MLB and was embarrassingly dropped to eighth in the batting order on Thursday as a result.
Not surprisingly, Philly fans aren’t too happy with him right now. But rather than boo him on Friday night against the Royals, perhaps a more merciful approach is warranted.
Trea Turner Slump
Phillies fans aren’t known for their compassion, and they have every right to boo Turner. A .237/.291/.370 batting line is unacceptable for almost any starting player, let alone one who’s making more than $27 million this year.
And yet, what is booing Turner going to accomplish? It’s not going to help him play better or break out of his 0-for-12 slump. He knows how bad he’s playing and obviously feels terrible about it. He’s working hard to correct whatever’s wrong with his swing, but so far the results just haven’t been there.
People also need to remember that ballplayers are humans. Extremely well-compensated humans, yes, but humans nevertheless. They get anxious and stressed and nervous and frustrated just like we do, and nobody likes being criticized. How would you feel if 40,000 people showed up at your job and hounded you about it?
It’d be one thing if Turner was being a jerk and blaming others for his failures, but that’s not what’s happening. He’s still being a good teammate and answering the media’s questions, even though it isn’t easy.
He also hasn’t been that bad. His offensive numbers are underwhelming, but they’re not horrible for a shortstop. He’s also been terrific on the bases (21 steals without getting caught) and solid in the field, so it’s not like he’s been a total dud. Baseball-Reference estimates that he’s been worth nearly a full win above replacement level, so he’s still having a positive impact on the team — just not as much as we expected.
Turner is clearly broken right now, and booing him isn’t going to fix him. Maybe showing him some support will, especially when he needs it the most.
The Phillies are desperately fighting for a Wild Card spot, so they need Turner too. Every game counts, and we need Turner to be at his best down the stretch. That’ll be a lot easier for him if he hears cheers rather than jeers.