Phillies fans supporting Trea Turner might actually be working

Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies (Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports)
Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies (Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Philadelphia Phillies fandom has eagerly supported Trea Turner over the past week. The results speak volumes. 

The Philadelphia Phillies signed Trea Turner to a monumental 11-year, $300 million contract over the winter. It was celebrated as another home-run signing for the Phillies, who were big spenders fresh off their first World Series appearance since 2009.

Turner was expected to transition seamlessly into a lineup that already included Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Castellanos, J.T. Realmuto, and Kyle Schwarber. The Phillies, on paper, had one of the most potent offenses in the MLB and were adding a premier glove at shortstop with Turner.

Unfortunately, the expectation and the reality of Trea Turner have clashed rather violently this season. The Phillies expected one of the best position players in baseball. Instead, Turner has been a shell of himself at the plate and on the field, leading to choruses of boos from the notoriously harsh Philly faithful.

Something magical has happened over the last week, however. The Phillies’ fandom has stood firmly behind Turner, giving him standing ovations at the plate to encourage him at a personal low point. The results have been undeniable, with Turner slowly working his way back into the player who once dominated the batter’s box for Washington and Los Angeles.

Philadelphia Phillies fans are actually helping Trea Turner improve his numbers

Turner’s season-long numbers are severely underwhelming. He’s splitting .241/.294/.383 (all career lows) with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs in a league-leading 465 at-bats. Turner has bounced around the lineup all season, but nothing has brought him back to his contact-happy self — until recently.

Whether it’s well-timed positive regression or a genuine bone-deep reaction to the cheering that engulfs him every time he steps to the plate, Turner’s numbers have skyrocketed since Philly fans started laying off the boos and laying on the standing ovations.

Turner has an extra-base hit in four straight games and is hitting .368/. 400/.737 in five games since the first ovation, per CBS Sports. Turner has thanked the fans with billboards around the city and this truly feels like a turning point in the 30-year-old’s season. It’s a small sample size, sure, but Turner has always been the king of contact hitting. This is the norm, not some out of the blue explosion.

Of course, Turner has been far removed from such norms all season. This is the first genuine glimmer of light in a while and it’s a testament to the fanbase for sticking behind him. The Philadelphia fandom can be cold and unforgiving when players fall short of expectations, but it can also rise to the occasion and lift a player up when he’s struggling.

Ryan Howard, a Phillies legend who dealt with all the ups and downs inherent to playing in Philadelphia, said it best.

"“I think one of the things last year that made me so happy for seeing those guys not only make the postseason for the first time in a long time but making it to the World Series, they got to experience what Philadelphia is really like from a fan standpoint from the other side. Just as hard as they can be on you, they love you twice as hard.”"

This has strong flavors of Philadelphia’s interactions with former No. 1 NBA Draft pick Markelle Fultz. The rookie entered the league with superstar expectations, only to suffer from a strange shoulder malady that sapped him of his jump shot. Rather than relentless boos and jeering, Fultz constantly felt the warmth and support of Philly’s fanbase. Turner is feeling that same love now.

Love ’em or hate ’em, Philly fans are one of a kind. Sometimes they cross lines, sometimes they upset even their own players — just ask Alex Bohm, who famously said he hated the fanbase in a hot-mic moment on the field last season. How did the fans respond then? The same way they responded to Turner: with standing ovations and unrelenting love.

It’s a special group. Now, let’s see if Turner can keep the momentum going as the Phillies gear up for a wild card push.

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