Dodgers: No Amount of Depth Can Cover up the Absence of Turner
By Hector Ponce
The Dodgers are well-known for their depth as an organization. If an injury occurs the next man up mentality is what gets this team through tough injuries. However, this time around no amount of depth could cover up the hole Justin Turner has left in this lineup.
A brief look at the Dodgers stats over their first eleven games is enough to see how bad this team has performed. They have been shut out in three of those eleven games and have yet to face a true ace. Even if you aren’t into stats all you have to do is sit down and watch one game to see how much the red dream means to this lineup.
The absence of Turner has also been slightly felt on the defensive end. The Dodgers knew offensively they would miss Turner but they did not expect defense to be an issue without Turner. Forsythe is a natural third baseman and has been a stout defender his entire career but managed to make three errors in one game.
It was almost as if the baseball Gods were reminding us that Justin Turner is one of the best defensive third basemen in the bigs.
Of course, we knew the Dodgers would miss some production without their all-star third baseman but little did they know it would affect the entire lineup like it has. The biggest thing I have noticed missing without Turner is not necessarily a run producer, but someone who knows the situation and can pass the baton to the next guy in a better spot.
Justin Turner wears many different hats while he is up in that batters box. He can be whoever he wants to be and needs to be in any particular situation and that is part of what makes him such a special talent on the roster.
We are not in an era of small ball anymore and managers aren’t as likely to bunt players over to get into scoring position because the reward of letting them swing and put a ball over the fencer surmounts getting an opportunity to score a run more easily.
From what I’ve seen the players in the lineup all want to play hero and drive in that runner but sometimes doing so can cause them to overwork and in the end strikeout. They try so hard to put the ball over the fence and it hurts the team.
That’s where Turner comes in. Leadoff double, Turner understands his role in that situation and he hits a groundball to the right side and gets the runner over and sometimes scores him if the ball finds a hole. He simplifies his approach. Whereas Bellinger seems to have the same approach constantly, see the ball, hit the ball over the fence.
Turner also knows exactly when to take those big healthy hacks at the ball. He does that in hitters counts (2-0, 3-1). I was always told if you have that count that is when you take your “daddy hacks” and try to do damage instead of doing your job.
Turner understands each and every situation he is in and that is what makes him so important to this team. Utley is very similar in the sense that he knows when to adjust his approach, unfortunately, he just can’t execute quite as well as he could before. Adrian Gonzalez was the same way while he was with the Dodgers.
Sometimes outs can be helpful if you move runners over or get them in. However, strikeouts are counterproductive to that and this lineup is filled with guys who strikeout often.
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Yes, it is good to have guys that are trying to do damage each and every swing but it can also hurt teams if they aren’t in a groove. That’s where players like Turner are so valuable. If we go through the lineup it is scary when the team is on but when it is having an off night and need to manufacture runs the lineup has been hard-pressed to do so.
Taylor has a similar approach to Turner, but that approach only helps if runners are on and he doesn’t get that opportunity much from the leadoff spot. Seager is swinging as hard as possible and doing so very early in the count and you rarely see him in hitters counts. Puig is hitting the ball hard but right at people. Hernandez has tried to play the long ball but it has not worked out well.
Same goes for Bellinger and the long ball not working. Grandal is hot right now and Forsythe has been average. Turner would bring something different to this aggressive lineup who has a high rate of strikeouts.
Next: Who is off to a strong start in the minors for the Dodgers?
Justin Turner is showing how valuable he is now more than ever and he isn’t even playing. People always overlook the veteran third baseman and it is time to give him full credit for what he has accomplished. This offense is just not the same without him and I can’t wait to get him back on the field and watch the offense get its groove back.