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How Dodgers’ Trea Turner developed the smoothest slide in MLB

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Final August, Trea Turner, lower than a month into his Dodgers profession, scored from second base towards the Philadelphia Phillies and slid into web lore.

His murals went unnoticed initially. The Dodgers’ broadcasters, rightfully so, marveled at the truth that most Main League Baseball gamers wouldn’t have scored from second base on that play. Will Smith clubbed a single to proper subject. Bryce Harper, the eventual Nationwide League MVP, wasn’t taking part in deep and fired an correct throw residence. However Turner scored anyway. It was an necessary scamper, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in a 5-0 win.

Inside minutes, although, the dash was a footnote to the sprint’s swaggy ending.

Turner’s slide residence was buttery clean. Oil-slick clean. Silly clean. He went together with his proper foot main the best way over the left facet of residence plate. He bent his left leg beneath and caught out his gloved left hand. He swiped the white slab of rubber, glided a number of extra toes, and popped up with a spin simply forward of Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto’s tag. All of it occurred so shortly, so effortlessly with a composed aptitude.

The clip went viral by the top of the evening. It was a GIF by the morning. MLB’s YouTube account requested if it was the smoothest slide of all time.

Turner has emerged as one of many prime gamers within the majors, a dynamic expertise anticipated to interrupt the financial institution in free company this winter. He was a top-five NL MVP vote-getter final yr. He’s arguably the quick participant within the majors. And he’s — unofficially — the league’s greatest slider.

Turner, 28, has replicated the slick act a number of extra instances since August, every occasion including to a distinct segment spotlight reel. However he didn’t start his baseball-on-ice routine in Los Angeles.

He stated he doesn’t know when he added the slick slide to his arsenal, however his teammates at North Carolina State, within the minor leagues and with the Washington Nationals all seen his uncommon talent earlier than the Dodgers acquired him ultimately July’s commerce deadline. The shortstop recalled posting a compilation of highlights on his Instagram a number of years in the past that sparked a response from mates.

“I actually do the identical slide like 15 instances within the video,” stated Turner, who returns to Washington this week for the primary time since he was traded.

The distinction, Turner famous, is the uniform he has worn since final summer time.

In Los Angeles, as a Dodger, these moments are magnified. And the baseball model of a moonwalk has shined in Hollywood. Final month, a six-minute video of Turner’s “smoothest slides” was published on YouTube. It had about 215,000 views as of Sunday. Turner has taken a secular transfer carried out dozens of instances over 9 innings — and made it cool. He says he’s not going for that.

Turner stated he has by no means practiced sliding into bases in his life. He thinks his athleticism and coordination enable for the slick routines. However, finally, his capacity is instinctual with an inexpensive motive: avoiding ache. Extra gamers, Turner famous, damage themselves sliding into bases greater than individuals assume. They slide too near the bag, jamming their foot or, worse, injuring their hand. Or, much less typically, too distant. Or they slam too onerous on to the bottom, leaving bruises and raspberries. The damage-and-tear accumulates over a season, over a number of years, and impacts careers. He makes it look simple as a result of he needs it to be simple on his physique.

“It’s good,” Turner stated, “nevertheless it’s extra so it’s not trying like a automobile crash is going on.”

Dino Ebel had a front-row seat to one in every of Turner’s current friction-free landings final month. It occurred on Jackie Robinson Day towards the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. That point, Turner coasted into third base. Ebel, the Dodgers’ third base coach, was standing proper there. However he was busy trying up, doing his job, so he didn’t discover Turner’s slide. It wasn’t till he watched the video after the sport that he realized Turner had pulled one other one off.

“He’s, like, the most effective, for me,” Ebel stated. “He’s so quick. He’s so mild on his toes. When he slides, I don’t even hear him.”

Ebel stated Turner’s intuitiveness, derived from wreaking havoc on the bases at each stage, is unmatched, permitting for the sleek landings. He is aware of when to slip, how far he must be to not solely make it safely however guarantee he doesn’t get off the bag.

“It’s not talked about a lot, however there’s positively an artwork to it,” stated Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts, whose baserunning capacity fueled his 10-year taking part in profession. “It’s a part of being an entire baserunner.”

Then there’s the velocity. Statistically, Turner’s dash velocity of 30.1 toes per second this season was tied for third within the majors coming into Sunday, in line with Baseball Savant. He leads the main leagues with 30 bolts — outlined as any run the place the dash velocity reaches 30 toes per second. For the old-school stat heads, he has eight steals in 9 makes an attempt.

Dodgers' Trea Turner, left, scores past Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto on on Aug. 10, 2021, in Philadelphia.

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Trea Turner, left, scores previous Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto on an RBI single by Will Smith in the course of the sixth inning of a baseball sport, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photograph/Matt Slocum)

(Matt Slocum / Related Press)

Ebel stated Turner is the quickest participant he has coached within the majors. Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos, gamers he coached with the Angels, are subsequent on the checklist. Trout, Ebel stated, is a distinct type of runner. He’s loud. Bourjos was lighter. However not as mild as Turner.

Elliott Avent, Turner’s coach at North Carolina State, had a nickname for his star shortstop: Seabiscuit, after the legendary race horse from the Thirties. Avent recalled Turner scoring so shortly in an ACC championship sport that the umpire didn’t watch the play so he referred to as Turner out with out noticing what occurred.

“His slides are poetry in movement,” Avent stated. “When he runs, it’s like his toes don’t hit the bottom. It’s like watching a deer run via the woods. It’s like his hooves are hardly hitting the bottom.”

Turner stated understanding good slides from dangerous ones is simple. Not essentially from a smoothness standpoint, however whether or not the slide slowed down the runner. His well-known feet-first pop-up slide, when executed correctly, seemingly eliminates any friction. It provides him an edge. There isn’t one other one fairly prefer it.