Jonathan Papelbon picks Trea Turner to win NL MVP: 'He might steal 100 bases'


Bryce Harper may not be the only Phillies player to get “MVP!” chants at Citizens Bank Park this season. Trea Turner, who Harper played with in Washington, could garner some attention as well.

Philadelphia’s offseason acquisition has finished as high as fifth in MVP voting in his career – which coincidentally was when Harper won the award in 2021.

With Harper on the shelf to begin the year and Rhys Hoskins recently suffering a season-ending injury, Turner could lead the Phillies just as he led Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Former Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon played with both Harper and Turner in Washington. He joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” to give his take on the 2023 NL MVP race.

“Stop at Trea Turner! That’s your guy,” Papelbon said as Bradford read down the odds. “This is your guy… Did you watch (the WBC)?... He put on a clinic.”

Turner led the WBC in both home runs (five) and runs batted in (11) while batting .391 (9 for 23) with a 1.483 OPS. He was on fire towards the end of the tournament and Papelbon is expecting that to carryover into the season.

“The guy has the capability of playing the whole entire season. Look, I’m going to tell you with these new rules he might steal 100 bases,” Papelbon continued. “I love this guy’s stolen bases, hits, RBI. I love him this year. At +1100 it’s a steal for me.”

Now while 100 stolen bases is hyperbole, Turner had 27 steals last season and a career-high 43 back in 2018 with the Nationals. However, the larger bases, pickoff rule, and pitch clock could result in an increase across the league.

The key to Turner’s success, Papelbon says, is his ability to stay healthy. Playing the full season is pretty much a requirement for a season-long award.

“If this guy gets hurt, it’s a minor injury. He’s so athletic, he doesn’t have those major injuries, man,” Papelbon said. “When you’re that athletic you can almost control your body to not get hurt.”

Turner missed just two games last season and 14 during the 2021 campaign. He’s been as consistent as they come and that should only continue atop the Phillies’ lineup.

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