As Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner walked up to the plate, he began to hear chants of his name and see a crowd of people rise to give him a standing ovation. The game wasn’t tied in the ninth, and Turner didn’t just make a miraculous play in the field. It was a 2-0 game in the bottom of the second with a man on. The stakes, at this point of the game, weren’t very high. The fans were giving him a genuine ovation because he was struggling. This may seem counterintuitive, especially in a town like Philly, known for its rough and rowdy fans, but the impact of the gesture has been nothing short of miraculous.
The City of Brotherly Love
On December 8th, Trea Turner signed a $300 million, 11-year contract with the Phillies. A year prior, Turner was an all-star for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2022, he had a .298 batting average with 100 RBIs and 21 home runs. In six games during the Baseball Classic this spring, Turner had a whopping .391 batting average, five homers, and 11 RBIs. Coming into the 2023 season, fans expected Turner to continue his strong play. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Through August 3rd, Turner had a .235 batting average and a slugging percentage of .368, one of the worst statistical years outside of his rookie season, and the Phillies fans were letting him know when he came to the plate. But on August 4th, the fans tried something different.
On August 3rd, an idea began to circulate around fans to give the struggling Turner a standing ovation when he came to bat as a way to show support for their new superstar shortstop.
Just a day later, on August 5th, Turner hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals and an RBI double to help Philadelphia secure the win 9-6. Since the standing ovation began, Turner has looked like his old self. He closed out August with a .324 batting average and didn’t slow down in September, boasting a .309 batting average to close out the season. Turner also made MLB history, going 30-for-30 in stolen bases this season, becoming one of just six players to have a perfect stolen base record with 20 or more attempts.
He continued to rake, batting .347 in the playoffs with three home runs and four stolen bases. In a close-out game four against the Atlanta Braves, Tuner added his name to the Philadelphia record books, becoming the first player in franchise history to record four hits in a playoff game.
Turner did not overlook the impact of the fan.He has taken out billboards all over the city, thanking the Philly faithful.
“I think it was nice to get the message out there and say thank you,” Turner told reporters “I said it in interviews and whatnot, but I think it was just another nice gesture.”
Despite monster numbers Turner and his teammate, Brice Harper, were producing, the Phillies fell in the NLCS to the Diamondbacks; however, there is still a lesson to be learned from Turner’s 2023 season.
The big question to answer in this story is if the fan’s standing ovations are really responsible for Turner’s drastic turnaround at the plate.
The knee-jerk reaction, based on his play, would be yes, and empirical evidence supports the claim. According to the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association, 80% to 90% of feedback for athletes should be positive in order to see the best results. A study of a middle school basketball team found that when coaches praised effort over results and incentivized encouragement among teammates, jump shooting improved from 37% to 51%, layups increased from 68% to 80%, and foul shooting improved from 59% to 67%.
The statistical evidence surrounding positive feedback that has been conducted in the field of sports psychology is a reminder of the Influence we have in our schools, jobs, and communities. If you see someone who is struggling, they might just need a little encouragement. A little support can go a long way, and Trea Turner is living proof.