When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Justin Turner to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training in February 2014, it was impossible to foresee what has transpired in the time since.
Turner played his way onto the Dodgers roster in 2014 and was one of the club’s better hitters off the bench. Along with serving as a pinch hitter, Turner spelled Juan Uribe at third base, and also started games at second base and shortstop.
Proving his first season with Los Angeles wasn’t a flash in the pan, Turner continued to swing a hot bat and took hold of the starting job at third.
Entering last season, Turner was not considered a top-10 third baseman by MLB Network’s The Shredder. Uribe made the list, ranked ninth, and finished the year eighth on The Shredder based on WAR (1.7).
That changed this year as The Shredder listed Turner as the No. 5 player at his position. While the algorithm based on performance that accounts for offense and defense valued Turner, analysts Bill James, Vince Gennaro, Mike Lowell and Mike Petriello did not.
Some of their reasoning included questions about Turner’s health as he’s coming off microfracture knee surgery and whether the 31 year old is an everyday player. Petriello did say he believes Turner has been a better hitter than Todd Frazier over the past two seasons.
Last season Turner was ranked second amongst third baseman with a 138 OPS+ (minimum 400 plate appearances). He trailed only Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays in the category, and was ahead of St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter (134 OPS+), Chicago’s Kris Bryant (133) and Baltimore’s Manny Machado (131), among others.
As for third baseman with a minimum of 700 plate appearances since 2014, Turner ranks first in batting average (.314), on-base percentage (.384) and wRC+ (148), and third in slugging percentage (.492).
Last season he hit .294/.370/.491 with 16 home runs, 60 RBIs, a .371 wOBA and 141 wRC+ in a career-high 126 games. Turner is confident he’ll be recovered from offseason surgery by Opening Day, and believes his knee won’t be an issue moving forward.
|Rank||The Shredder||Mike Lowell||Brian Kenny|
|1||Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays)||Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays)||Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays)|
|2||Kris Bryant (Cubs)||Nolan Arenado (Rockies)||Kris Bryant (Cubs)|
|3||Adrian Beltre (Rangers)||Manny Machado (Orioles)||Manny Machado (Orioles)|
|4||Manny Machado (Orioles)||Kris Bryant (Cubs)||Adrian Beltre (Rangers)|
|5||Justin Turner (Dodgers)||Matt Carpenter (Cardinals)||Nolan Arenado (Rockies)|
|6||Nolan Arenado (Rockies)||Todd Frazier (White Sox)||Matt Carpenter (Cardinals)|
|7||Jung Ho Kang (Pirates)||Adrian Beltre (Rangers)||Kyle Seager (Mariners)|
|8||Matt Carpenter (Cardinals)||Kyle Seager (Mariners)||Matt Duffy (Giants)|
|9||Kyle Seager (Mariners)||Mike Moustakas (Royals)||David Wright (Mets)|
|10||Todd Frazier (White Sox)||Evan Longoria (Rays)||Todd Frazier (White Sox)|