Turner's power, speed from leadoff earn raves

Turner's power, speed from leadoff earn raves

ATLANTA -- Trea Turner isn't known for his power, but the speedy shortstop continues to show he's got pop. He blasted the first pitch he saw on Wednesday into the Nationals' bullpen, sending the club on its way to a 7-3 win at SunTrust Park.

Turner has hit four leadoff home runs this season, helping the Nationals draw within 3 1/2 games of the Dodgers for home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Nationals currently hold the tiebreaker between the two clubs.

According to Statcast™, Turner's home run went 368 feet and had a 29-degree launch angle. The solo shot left his bat at 94 mph. Turner went 2-for-5 on the night and is now hitting .408 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs against the Braves in his career.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker gave Turner some high praise after the game, comparing the leadoff hitter's mix of power and speed to Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.

"That is Rickey Henderson-type stuff," Baker said. "Rick was the best at that. You walk him or he gets a hit, it is like a double or a triple. If you throw it right there, he would leave the ballpark on you. That is quite a feat for him so young in his career. You have to have discipline to do that and get a good pitch to hit."

Turner appreciated the comparison as he wants to pattern his game after Henderson. He has done a great job this season by batting .283 with 10 home runs and 42 steals.

In 80 games batting leadoff, Turner has a .320 on-base percentage. He also has 29 extra-base hits and 26 walks from the position.

"I have a lot of work to do, if that is the comparison," Turner said. "He is kind of the player that I should strive to be, as a guy that can do everything. That is what I always said as I don't want to be one-dimensional; I don't want to just hit homers or have to walk or bunt to get on base. I want to be able to do it all and he is a good guy to emulate."

The Nationals will be counting on Turner to set the table as the playoffs begin in October. Baker said the club wants to finish the season strong, but he doesn't want to overwork his guys. He knows that chasing the Dodgers for home-field advantage is big. However, he values his team's health moving forward even more.

"We aren't going to kill our guys trying to get to it," Baker said. "If it is within reach, we are going to go for it. Especially after last weekend, when they beat us two out three up at our place. ... We are just going to try to win every game that we can."

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta who covered the Nationals on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.