Today we are previewing Dodgers third baseman, Justin Turner.
The 31-year old “Red Dream” is entering his third season with the Dodgers. Turner has turned into not only a fan favorite, but an essential player to the Dodgers over the past few years. *Turn down for what….*
On February 5, 2014 Justin Turner signed a minor league contract with the boys in blue that also included an invitation to spring training. It did not take long for the Dodgers to see his potential. On March 16, 2014 the Dodgers purchased his contract and added him to the forty man roster.
Turner had a breakout season in 2014 after getting additional playing time due to injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe. Turner stepped up to the plate and shined when the Dodgers needed him most. His versatility made him even more valuable. He played in 109 games in 2014 and had a BA of .340. His offensive ability speaks for itself, but Turner also was great with the glove.
On January 16th, Turner signed a one year $2.5 million dollar contract, avoiding salary arbitration. In 2015 he earned the starting third baseman role and played in 126 games with a BA of .294. 16 homeruns and 60 RBI’s later, Turner was still proving his worth and value to the team throughout the 2015 season.
It all only got better when the Dodgers faced the New York Mets in the National League Division Series last post season. Turner again offensively destroyed his former team. He lead the Dodgers with 10 hits in 19 AB for a .526 BA in the series. Six of those ten hits were doubles.
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After the Dodgers were eliminated in the post season, Turner underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
2016 Role and Steamer Projections
In the past few seasons, Turner went from utility man to a star who earned his spot in the starting lineup. Coming into the 2016 season, he is still rehabbing a little and taking it easy on his knee, but assuming all goes well, Turner will again be the starter for opening day in a few weeks.
Steamer projects Turner to play in 112 games with 12 homeruns, 56 RBI’s and 5 stolen bases. They also project that within those 112 games Turner will hit .273/.338/.418. Even though Turner is coming back from a knee injury, I personally believe that he will outperform his Steamer projections. Struggling with the injury last season, he still had a BA of .294. The Steamer projection then believes that Turner will hit considerably less, but if he can pick up from where he left off, offensively killing it against the New York Mets, then the Dodgers have nothing to worry about here.
What Could Go Wrong?
Starting a new season after coming back from an injury always makes me a little hesitant about a player. The biggest thing that could go wrong in my opinion is that Turner has a hard time recovering from the knee injury and it plagues him for the next season. My biggest fear is that the injury comes back up again this year and limits Turner and his playing time.
The Dodgers do not have too much depth at the third base position. It has been rumored that at some point shortstop Corey Seager might one day transition to third base, but that is unlikely this season with little depth at the shortstop position. Alex Guerrero is an opinion at third base, but he might not make the forty man roster coming out of camp. Honestly, I thought the Dodgers would have traded Guerrero by now. He does not have an option in his contract, so if that is the case the Dodgers will either involve him in a trade or release him from the team. Chase Utley has been spending some time at third as well as Howie Kendrick. Austin Barnes also has some time at third under his belt. The Dodgers have options at the third base position, the only reason why I said they do not have too much depth is none of these players are naturally third basemen. They all have spent way more time at a different position.
What Could Go Right?
Well, Turner can maintain the career he has had with the Dodgers the past two seasons and I would be happy. If he can stay healthy and continue to be consistent both at the plate and with the glove, then it is going to be a great season.
One of the best things about Turner is how his personality translates to the field whether it is walking up to “Turn Down for What”, always expressing his love for the movie “The Sandlot” or taking selfies with Adrian Gonzalez after hitting a homerun.
Turner has set the bar high over the past few years, so just maintaining that would be great. He has so much potential and is an essential part of the Dodgers club. Here’s to many more homerun selfies in 2016.