Our Dodger Greats series continues this week with two masters of the basepaths: Trea Turner, who has wowed us all with his sliding abilities, and Maury Wills, who is equally well-remembered for his lighting speed as he is for the immense dedication he showed the Dodgers after his playing days were done.
Shortstop: Trea Turner and Maury Wills
We’re taking a look at Turner’s 2022 season (his first full one with L.A.) compared to Wills in 1962, the first year Dodger Stadium was in use. Both players were 29 in their respective seasons; Wills appeared in 165 games, while Turner played in 160.
You can’t talk about either one of these players without talking about the impression they make on the base paths. Maury Wills was famous for stealing bases, and 1962 was a banner year on that front. He took 104 bases in 1962, more than anyone else in the Major Leagues, thanks in part to a streak in which he snagged 44 bases in the last 44 games of the season. Wills’s 88.9-percent success rate (he was caught only 13 times all year) is a testament to his speed and craftiness.
“He changed the whole way of pitching,” teammate Tommy Davis told Dodger Insider in 2014. “He changed the whole game. When he got on base, he could hurt you. If you get on base early like Maury did, our pitcher can try more things because he’s ahead.”
But Trea Turner has his own claim to fame when he’s on the run: that beautiful, beautiful slide. Turner may have only stolen 27 bases out of 30 attempts in 2022—far from his career-high of 46 successful steals in 2017—but he’s still electric. With a sprint speed of 30.3 feet per second, it’s almost shocking that he can demonstrate such grace on every slide. And the best part? Looking good is just a bonus.
“I’m not necessarily trying to be cool or anything,” Turner told ESPN in an August interview. “It’s more that I’m trying to slide correctly—efficiently. I don’t slow down.”
Smooth like butter, pull you in like no other. pic.twitter.com/GlxknGumhQ— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 11, 2021
According to Dodgers third-base coach Dino Ebel, the slide is only the start of Turner’s baserunning prowess. The shortstop’s intuitiveness, speed, and lightness all contribute to the magic, Ebel said at the beginning of this season.
Now let’s talk about what goes on before all that base running magic can happen. Wills and Turner are more evenly matched than one might think. They’re fairly similar when it comes to total walks, on base percentage, and batting average, but each leads in some key areas.
While Wills led the National League in triples with 10, while Turner notched four. Wills also gets the edge on runs scored, hits, and walks for the season. Turner, meanwhile, had 39 doubles to Wills’s 13 and a whopping 21 homers to Wills’s six. Turner also cashed in 100 RBI, just over double of Wills’s 48.
Here’s a closer look at some key batting stats for the pair:
Wills vs. Turner on Offense
Wills and Turner aren’t all flashy running. Both posted strong fielding percentages: .956 for Wills and .969 for Turner. Wills was also excellent at turning double plays, participating in 86 on the season compared to Turner’s 54. Most interesting, perhaps, is the disparity in defensive chances, or putouts, assists, and errors combined. Wills notched 824 total, while Turner had 524.
More defensive stats below:
Wills vs. Turner on defense
League Leads, Career Highs, and Awards
Wills had a career year in 1962. He narrowly beat the San Francisco Giants’ Willie Mays for the MVP award, was selected to the All-Star Game, and won himself a Gold Glove. He led the National League with his 10 triples and sat atop the Majors as a whole with 695 at bats and 104 stolen bases. Incidentally, he also led the Majors in number of times caught stealing—13 total—but that’s to be expected.
Wills also set an interesting record for number of games played in a season, totaling a rare 165 thanks to a three-game playoff against San Francisco.
Turner didn’t do too badly himself in 2022. He led the National League in plate appearances (708) and at bats (652), was selected to the All-Star Game, and capped off the year with a Silver Slugger and 11th place finish in MVP voting.