by Brian Tinsman

WASHINGTON — Trea Turner was the best rookie in the National League in August, hitting .357/.366/.571 in 28 games, with five home runs, 28 runs scored, 15 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.

He had hits in 23 games with hits in the month, including 11 multi-hit games, five games with three or more hits, and two games-with-hits streaks of at least eight games.

He also very nearly set a franchise record (47) with his 45 hits. That mark will have to wait for September.

How did Turner go from a pleasant surprise to one of the best hitters in the league? He told the media before Saturday’s game that he channeled Houston Astro Jose Altuve, a similarly-talented right-handed batter. In the process of film stufy, Turner fixed the hole in his swing.

“I watched a little bit of Altuve — how he hits, the pitches that he hits,” Turner said. “I think I mentally figured it out — how to get in the right position, how to repeat my swing, how to be in a good spot.

“You can have success for a long period, not just for a game. I had to make that adjustment fast, because I was striking out.

“Playing bad isn’t fun.”

For what it’s worth, “playing bad” for Turner was still hitting .317 at the start of August. But the thing that alarmed both Turner and his coaches was his 18 strikeouts in his first 60 at-bats.

After watching Altuve’s swing, Turner struck out just 22 times over 130 at-bats in August.

Turner joins Bryce Harper (May and September-October 2012) and Ryan Church (May 2005) as the only Nationals rookies to win Rookie of the Months honors since the team moved to Washington, D.C.

“It’s always special when you receive an award. Up here in the big leagues is special,” Turner said. “You always dream about trying to be the best. It feels good. I feel excited about the rest of the season.”


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