When Justin Turner pulled up rounding third base against the Marlins in mid-May, fans let out a long and frustrated sigh. It seemed as though the organization was bound to take a hit by losing one of their most productive hitters.
Turner got put on the disabled list on May 19th, and up to that point he was hitting a very productive .379, and that includes his ludicrous .404 batting average against right-handed pitching. Every Dodgers‘ fan out there must have felt like the team was headed for disaster.
And with good reason, because besides from playing outstanding defense, Turner was tearing up opposing pitchers. While the power numbers haven’t exactly been there this year, there is no arguing that he’d been having one of the most productive offensive seasons up until his hamstring injury in May.
But then something happened that no fan could have accurately predicted: the Dodgers just kept winning. After the team had won the game Turner was injured in, the Dodgers sat at 24-18, giving them a winning percentage of .571 and good for third place in a stacked division.
After Turner had gone down, the Dodgers went 12-7 as of Wednesday afternoon. Turner was slugging 40 points above league average and had an on-base percentage 132 points above league average, yet he was hardly missed at all. And that is due in large part to the surprising production that has come from every part of the lineup this season.
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Cody Bellinger has shot to stardom, Chris Taylor seems to be the hero every five games or so, and Yasiel Puig is tied for the team lead in RBI. Chase Utley, who has gotten way more playing time since Turner went down, has hit .250 in his absence and has provided plenty of heroics. The team has risen to the occasion since Turner went down, and it will be interesting to see how well they perform in his return this weekend.
The Dodgers’ performance without Turner is impressive, turning in a winning percentage of .631, but whats’s more impressive is who they’ve beaten.
Before Turner’s injury, the team had played 19 games against teams currently above .500. Of those 19 games with Turner, they managed to win eight. After he had been lost to injury, the team went 6-3 against winning teams. That’s a .667 winning percentage without Turner as opposed to a .421 with. That’s not to say that the team is better off without Turner because that wouldn’t be true.
The offense has taken a while to come around, and now that he’s back, the Dodgers will get a huge boost. Adding his kind of power and high batting average to some of the most lethal bats in all of the National League makes for a terrifying lineup.
Factor in an entire pitching staff with the best earned run average in baseball (top bullpen in the National League), and you’ve got yourself a real World Series candidate.