Dodgers: Justin Turner’s Race for the NL Batting Title

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner is having a career year but is starting to lose a hold on the NL batting average lead.

Turner has been in a slump since the all-star break that has seen his batting average drop to .346 after a 0-4 night against the Mets Friday night. Turner is still leading the league in average, but he is quickly falling back down to the rest of the pack.

At the all-star, break Turner was far and above the league leader in BA hitting .377. Nobody was even close to JT at that point and looked like he was in a position to run away with the batting title. His incredible first half performance in which he was constantly flirting with .400 led him to be selected to his first ever All-Star game by winning the final vote competition.

However, Turner is only hitting .241 since the break and already has seen his BA drop over 30 points in less than a month. A steep decline in average like this can happen quickly especially when your average was as high as Turner’s was. Just one bad week can see your average drop significantly.

Regression was expected as it is hard to maintain an average that high and Red Turn was bound to go through a slump eventually. The race behind Turner is really close right now with multiple players all within a few points of each other.

The players ranked 2-7 in average right now are all hitting between .322 and .333.

Last year’s batting champ DJ LeMahieu is hitting .322 and has been on a tear since the break hitting .406. He goes under the radar in Colorado but won the title last year with .348 average so don’t sleep on LeMahieu making a run again this year.

The person LeMahieu just edged out last season by one point was Daniel Murphy, who is currently second in the league with a .333 average. Murphy has turned himself into a hitting machine over the last couple of years. Ironically after he destroyed the Dodgers in the postseason. He hit .347 last year and is currently in a bit of a slump only hitting .255 since the break, but don’t expect him to stay down for too long.

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Charlie Blackmon is third hitting .328 and leads the NL in total hits. He was excellent last season as well hitting .324 and is a .303 career hitter. Post all-star break he is batting .400 and is coming up on Turner quick. If Turner and Blackmon both keep trending the way they currently are Blackmon can surpass Turner as soon as next weekend. Both Blackmon and LeMahieu also both benefit from playing in the notoriously hitter friendly Coors Field which helps their stats out.

Another player that you can’t sleep on because of his resume is Buster Posey. The Giants are having a terrible year much to Dodger fans delight, but Posey is having another great season. Posey is as consistent as it gets and has already won a batting title back in 2012 when he hit .336 and is hitting .326 right now. His .309 career average is the highest among anybody who is in the top 10 right now.

All of these players are extremely consistent contact hitters and hardly ever go into long sustained slumps. It is going to be tough for Turner too hold off the competition and win the batting title, but I believe he does have the ability. He is up against players who have won batting titles, MVP’s, and have been multiple time All-Stars. But this has been such a magical year for the Dodgers it seems like everything is going their way.

Turner winning the batting title would just be another thing to add to the list of Dodgers accomplishments in this fantastic 2017 season. It would be an incredible story considering how far Turner has come.

He went from being cut by the Mets to earning a spot on the Dodgers roster out of spring training back in 2014, to earning a big multi-year contract, and has now become one of the best third basemen in baseball.

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Turner winning the batting title only seems fitting to a guy who has worked as hard as he has to get to the position he is in. My prediction is that Turner is going to go on at least one more hot streak which helps him prevail and hold off the other candidates by a few points. Expect a close race that goes down to the wire but for Turner to come out on top.