Dodgers: Turner Ward has Helped Turn Several Dodgers’ Careers Around

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Hitting coach Turner Ward of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Hitting coach Turner Ward of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Hitting coach, Turner Ward gets a whole lot of attention for being the recipient of a sloppy kiss on the cheek from right fielder Yasiel Puig after a home run or big at bat. However, he should be getting more attention for what he has helped players accomplish on the field.

Entering 2017, the Dodgers had aspirations at a deep playoff run, little did they know two players would have career years and help lead them into that deep run. Yasiel Puig being one of those two players to have a resurgent season.

2016 saw Yasiel Puig struggle so much that he found himself playing in the minors towards the latter half of the season. That made 2017 a huge season for the Cuban sensation that once took the MLB by storm. Turner Ward made Puig his “project” during the off-season, helping him fine-tune his swing and get the power that he had lacked.

Looking at the way Yasiel Puig is built, it’s hard to imagine him not having jaw-dropping power. Well, 2017 was the first season he cranked over 20 bombs in a season. Turner Ward worked his magic on Puig, and he hit more home runs in 2017 than in 2016 and 2015 combined.

There’s a reason Yasiel Puig is always looking for Turner Ward whenever he hits a ball hard. Even when he isn’t on the field if the camera pans to the dugout you are likely to see Puig directly next to his favorite coach. Puig has completely bought into what Ward has been preaching and it has been successful.

The second player to have a career jolting season at the plate in 2017 was Chris Taylor. The bat speed and approach had always been there with Taylor. The problem came with his load and hand position. Once Ward fixed both the Dodgers had themselves a NLCS MVP. Once again we saw a major jump in home run totals for a player.

In 353 plate appearances before the 2017 season, Chris Taylor had one home run. Yes, you read that correctly ONE, UNO! In 568 plate appearances during 2017, Taylor launched 21 bombs and found himself hitting leadoff for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It was a remarkable story to see Taylor turn what looked to be a career bouncing from club to club and in between the minors and the bigs into one that finds himself playing a key position on one of the best teams in the MLB.

Taylor is yet another guy that is one hundred percent bought into what Ward is preaching, and his production has shown.  Both Puig and Taylor struggled early on in 2018 but have turned the corner and are both white hot at the moment.

Now onto two players in 2018 that have similar stories to that of Taylor and Puig.

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First let’s talk about Joc Pederson. The story entering 2018 was almost identical to that of Puig entering 2017. Uncertain. Mentioned in trade talks, and even him making the club to start the season was a bit of a surprise. He had spent time in AAA in 2017 because of poor performance but when he got back to the MLB for the playoffs he was lights out.

Now Joc seems to have found something in his swing. With the help of Turner Ward, Joc has finally found a stance and approach that has worked thus far. To me, he still has to continue to be consistent, but this hot streak is different than what we have seen from Joc before.

Maybe he won’t be as productive as Puig was in 2017, but Joc may have helped keep himself on the club longer. Joc, like Puig, will often be right next to Ward, even when he isn’t playing. This shows just how much the players respect the advice of Ward.

Now onto a player who is having a season a bit like Chris Taylor in 2017. Another no-name guy with an approach the front office liked and just needed some minor adjustments. In steps, Turner Ward and you have the 2018 version of Max Muncy.

Muncy who had 96 games under his belt with the Oakland A’s had just five home runs in those games. Now, in just 40 games Muncy has nine bombs. Another testament to Ward’s ability to make minor adjustments to a player who has the tools but just isn’t executing how he should.

Max Muncy is not Chris Taylor, but their backgrounds are very similar. It should come as no surprise that Turner Ward has helped two struggling “minor leaguers” become what seem to be mainstays on an MLB roster.

Next: Dodgers Quick Hits: Joc, Santana, Bullpen

Turner Ward is one of the best hitting coaches in the bigs. He doesn’t get the love Rick Honeycutt does from the fans, but Ward is adored by that locker room and has helped rejuvenate careers. Turner Ward will continue to work in silence, and the players will continue to reap the rewards from his teachings.