Dodgers: Justin Turner Continues to Fight Off Father Time in 2019

Justin Turner continues to be a very good hitter for the Dodgers in 2019.  Despite a small dip in production, JT remains an above-average third baseman.

Justin Turner is the steady veteran that makes the Dodgers’ lineup go.  He may not be the team’s best hitter, and maybe not even their second-best hitter this season, but the Dodgers do much better as a team when JT is in the lineup.  Over the last few seasons staying healthy has been an issue for Turner, although not all of it was his fault; see his fractured wrist.

This season the Dodgers have been more reluctant to giving Turner more games off.  There have been stretches where he has sat a few games in a row out and appeared to be injured, but the team did not place him on the IL.  With a loaded twenty-five man roster it is simply LA pacing Turner for the long season and another World Series run.

The result is that he has appeared in 82 games prior to the All-Star break, besting the last two seasons where he played 48 and 65 games before the break.  This season Turner is not an All-Star but he remains the rock of the Dodgers’ lineup that rarely goes into slumps and comes through in the clutch. The bearded one has hit .281 with runners in scoring position this season for the Dodgers.

While JT enters the All-Star break with just ten home runs, don’t let that fool you into thinking that his power is in decline.  As the SIS blog points out, Justin has a 42.3% hard-hit rate this season which is second in all of baseball among players with at least two hundred at-bats.  That puts him ahead of 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich, and just below Cody Bellinger’s 42.7 hard-hit rate.

Statistics often tell lies and Justin Turner’s slugging percentage is one of them in 2019.  Over the last two seasons, Turner had a slugging percentage over .500 so compared to his current slugging percentage of .446 it looks like he has not hit the ball with as much power but that is where his hard-hit rate tells a different story.

Defensively, Justin has looked a bit shaky at times but as a whole, he has actually had a better season so far than his previous few seasons.  He currently has four errors and a .980 fielding percentage which is an improvement on his 2018 and 2017 fielding percentage of  .962 and .969.  Fangraphs notes his negative UZR/150 rating but on routine plays, he still has a 97.6% conversion rate which is the same as the previous two seasons.

Next: Joc's journey back to the HR derby

The only obvious areas where Justin Turner has seen a decline in 2019 is that his range at third base is worse and his strikeout rate is up.  Not that it should be surprising for a player who turns thirty-five years old later this season.  JT may not be the JT of the last few seasons, but he continues to be a rock in the Dodgers’ lineup and will be counted on to deliver his postseason heroics that have become a norm over the last two World Series runs.