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Trea Turner explains his power surge with the Nationals

Trea Turner hit two more home runs Friday. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

On Friday night, after cracking two line-drive homers and beating the Phillies with the second one, Trea Turner was again asked whether his power surge as a major leaguer surprises him. The 23-year-old rookie, as he has done every time, gave a simple answer.

“No,” Turner said. “You guys are going to be way more surprised than I am.”

Turner again maintained his slight physique has always contained some power to go with his electric speed. But the numbers remain a bit baffling. Turner hit 19 home runs in 1,192 minor-league plate appearances. The most home runs he hit in the minors for a season was eight in 500 plate appearances between Class AA and AAA in the Padres’ and Nationals’ organizations last year. He added some muscle on his 6-foot-1 frame during the offseason and hit home runs at a higher rate with Syracuse this season: seven in 371 plate appearances.

His power production with Washington dwarfs anything Turner did in the minors. He has eight home runs in 233 plate appearances in a Nationals uniform.

So, what gives?

“I’ve been thinking about that and I think there’s so many factors that people really don’t put enough emphasis on,” Turner said. “You got a little bit better ball up here, the bats are better, a lot of people argue that. Stadiums are better as in there’s less wind with all the structures up. And you play in some tough places in the minor leagues, Syracuse specifically and I think even San Antonio I played in are some of the worst hitting ballparks for home-run wise.

“And then I think, as for me personally, I attribute a lot to learning my swing and you play every day and I think if you put a lot of effort into each and every session swing, whatever you want to call it, you can learn stuff. I feel like in the last month and a half I learned how to control some things, how to make adjustments a lot quicker. I think that needs to happen up here or else they’ll expose you real quick.”

Home runs aren’t Turner’s only power displays. He’s also hit 12 doubles and six triples in his 52 games. Altogether, he has a staggering .561 slugging percentage while stealing 21 bases from the leadoff spot and playing a position (center field) he didn’t play in a professional game until June 27. He had a .471 slugging percentage with Syracuse.

Manager Dusty Baker said Turner’s power surge reminded him of his own when he came up with the Braves as a 23-year-old outfielder in 1972. Baker never hit more than 11 home runs in a minor-league season. In his first four full major-league campaigns he hit 17, 21, 20, and 19.

“Just keep it coming,” Baker said. “The sky’s the limit. He’s probably doing some things that even amaze himself. But just let it flow and let it be.”

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