It seems as though you can’t have an All-Star game without controversy. Who’s in, who’s not, will the Home Run Derby ruin this year’s participate’s swing? It was announced Sunday that the players making the All-Star team from the Dodgers are Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger. The controversy comes from who was not included. The man with the highest batting average in the major leagues, Justin Turner, was left to the mercy of the fan vote to make it to Miami next week.
(The fact that Alex Wood was also left off of the All-Star roster is preposterous, but we’ll leave that for another time).
Now before you start, of course batting average isn’t the only true measure of a player. But JT has been incredible at the plate this season. His current slash line sits at .382/.472/.557/.1.029. The next closest Dodger batter is Seager at .305. The next closest player in the major leagues is Giants’ catcher Buster Posey at .339/.416/.521/.937. You won’t see Turner on that list of leaders, however, due to his time spent on the DL earlier this season. He is 10 plate appearances shy after Sunday’s game. He could take an 0-fer for those PAs and still be leading the league in batting average. But that shouldn’t matter one bit. Turner has been the best hitter this season, and should be treated as such.
(Admittedly, I do not get into the advanced stats of baseball as much as some of you might. This is a very interesting between Eno Sarris and Brandon McCarthy going into why or why not they believe JT should be going.)
Is there something to that? Is the average baseball fan saying to themselves, “Well, I know he’s getting on base a ton, but his homers just aren’t there this season, Arenado plays in Coors, so we all know his stats are a little skewed, Jake Lamb might end up having the better overall season….”? I highly doubt it. What the All-Star game starters comes down to, like it or not, is the fans vote. And the Dodgers fans simply didn’t pull their weight for Justin.
Jansen took us fans to task after Sunday’s game. “It’s Dodgers fans fault. We should have voted those two guys (Turner and Seager). They should be starters,” he told reporters after the game. Later, he doubled down. “I’ll say it loud and clear again. It’s the Dodgers fans’ fault.”
Whether it was a good idea for Kenley to say anything at all can be debated. Personally, I love the ire he showed in standing up for his teammates. He chose to come back to this team for a reason, to be with these players, and he has their backs. I’d much rather have my closer put the onus on the ones capable of putting the players in the game. Maybe some of that onus should also be put on the organization as a whole for not promoting JT as much as they could have, but it’s still on the fans themselves to vote.
This can lead one to debate whether the All-Star vote should be left up to the fans at all. Clearly, those who vote are thinking with their hearts and not their heads. But fans vote for their players. Not who’s actually best at any position. Fan vote can be a funny thing. Last year’s ASG had a plethora of Cubs, most of whom weren’t close to being the the best at their position. This year, the only player so far for the Cubs is their closer, Wade Davis. Kris Bryant, reigning NL MVP, is also a finalist for the last man voted in alongside Turner.
Third base in the national league is definitely stacked this year. Turner is having a career year at the plate, and many are arguing that he’s still third behind Arenado and Anthony Rendon. I see it otherwise. This is a man who deserves to be in the ASG, and we all know it.
At age 32, Turner is a late bloomer. He has progressed every year since joining the Dodgers to where he is now, having his best first half yet, despite his injury. Plus, it means a lot to the man himself. “To be an All-Star would be a pretty cool deal. I can’t imagine myself having a better first half than I am right now,” he told reporters after the game on Sunday. “I’m not like Belly and Corey. I’m getting up there in age. Whatever opportunity I get, I’m going to take it.”
So it’s up to us, Dodger fans. Let’s get JT to Miami. Voting online at MLB.com is unlimited. You can vote up to 35 times via text message by sending N5 to 89269. And starting Thursday, you can vote via Twitter using the hashtag #VoteJT. If you’re apathetic to the whole deal, that’s fine. But you shouldn’t be. This is a man who deserves to be rewarded for all his hard work and his incredible season. Let’s get JT to the All-Star Game, Dodger fans!
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @)