While we wait for the New Year’s ball and news from the Dodgers‘ front office to drop, we can continue to look ahead at who we know will be with the team for the 2019 season.
Friday, we discussed the return of Corey Seager and what he will mean to the team. I included a graphic from Steamer for FanGraphs that projected the WAR leaders in the NL for the upcoming season. Seager was number two, behind Kris Bryant. What was interesting to me was that Justin Turner was number five on the list.
As we all know, Turner was robbed of a full season of play by being hit on his left wrist in a spring training game on March 19th. He returned mid-May, but wasn’t fully healthy until later in the season. In addition to the original wrist injury, he also had a 10-day DL stint at the end of July, and was hit on the wrist again in September.
His absence from the field meant a great re-shuffling of the Dodger position players, with everyone from Logan Forsythe to Max Muncy filling in the hot corner. Suffice it to say, Muncy will probably not be filling in again should heaven forbid Turner get hurt next season.
Turner is no doubt the heart and soul of the Dodgers lineup. It just responds differently, as do opposing pitchers when they have to face him in it. His return to the lineup sparked the turnaround that propelled the 16-26 Dodgers from 8.5 games back in the division to close to, if not the top.
In 103 games last season, Turner hit .312/.406/.518/.924 with 14 homers. In the playoffs, he shines with clutch hits. Interestingly, the NLDS is where he really show his stuff, with a .429/.532/.667/1.199 slash line over 5 appearances. The NLCS is where he homers, with four in three appearances. Last year in the World Series, he slashed .333/.385/.417/801. He now has the the third best on-base percentage in MLB Postseason history, behind Lou Gerhig and Babe Ruth. Even with the diminished playing time, Turner still turned up in the Top 10 on many voter’s MVP ballots.
Going into his age 34 season, Turner still has two years left on his four year contract. Steamer projects him to have a .286/.370/.475/ slash line with 23 homers and the aforementioned 5.0 WAR. I have no doubt Turner will be the driving force in the Dodgers lineup once again, the defacto captain of the team, and lead the Dodgers to their seventh divisional win and beyond.