Justin Turner Wins 12th Annual Roy Campanella Award

The Dodgers announced on Monday afternoon that third baseman Justin Turner was named the winner of the 12th annual Roy Campanella Award. This honor is given to the Dodger player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher. The award, which was voted upon by Dodger uniformed personnel, will be presented to Turner by Campanella’s daughter, Joni Campanella Roan, and his grandson, Cary Bell, during pregame ceremonies on Tuesday night.

Turner, 32, was initially signed by the Dodgers as a non-roster free agent with an invitation to Spring Training prior to the 2014 season. Since then, JT has emerged as an All-Star on the field and a strong leader inside the clubhouse. Turner has led the National League in batting average for much of the season and currently ranks second in the league with both his .321 batting average and .414 on-base percentage, while playing elite defense in 114 games started at third base.

This season, the Long Beach native earned the final roster spot on the NL All-Star team through the “final vote,” garnering a record-setting 20.8 million votes online and via social media.

While setting an example for his teammates to follow on the field, Turner has been just as impressive as a leader in the community, which this year culminated in his being named the Dodgers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.

Turner, who was nominated by his teammates for the MLB Player Association’s Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award last year, frequently makes community appearances on behalf of the team and often schedules his own visits to Cedars-Sinai Hospital to spend time with patients and to the Los Angeles Dream Center – a nonprofit that assists homeless families with residential, foster care, medical, life skills and other services. He also has his own foundation, the Justin Turner Foundation, which focuses on helping homeless veterans, children and families battling life-changing illnesses, and military little league baseball and softball.

When Turner signed a four-year contract to stay in Los Angeles this winter, he helped counsel All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, who eventually committed to staying with the Dodgers for five years. When the pair met with the media together after signing their deals, Jansen had this to say about the 2017 Roy Campanella Award winner:

“To have me and Justin back here, it kind of sets a tone for the young guys to kind of see how the process goes,” Jansen said. “Justin signed here on a minor league deal and became a star. Me, being a catcher who failed and then becoming one of the best closers, for the young guys to see that, I think it will help us a lot to win a championship.”

Added Dodger manager Dave Roberts during the season, “J.T. is the epitome of what we’re trying to do going forward, the type of baseball player he is, what he stands for. Those are the guys you win with.”

Roy Campanella was a three-time National League Most Valuable Player in the early 1950’s, eight-time All-Star and a member of the 1955 World Championship team. He played in five World Series and his 142 RBI in 1953 set a franchise record, since surpassed by Tommy Davis. In 1,215 career games during a 10-year career, all with the Dodgers, he batted .276 with 242 home runs and 856 RBI.

Former Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal received the inaugural Roy Campanella Award in 2006, and since then the honor has been awarded to Russell Martin in 2007, James Loney in 2008, Juan Pierre in 2009, Jamey Carroll in 2010, Matt Kemp in 2011, A.J. Ellis in 2012, Clayton Kershaw in both 2013 and 2014, Zack Greinke in 2015 and Chase Utley in 2016.

(Joe Jareck provided the majority of information furnished in this report)

 

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Dodgers Playoff Roster Notes: Adrián González, Joc Pederson, Kyle Farmer & More

The Dodgers have finally clinched the division, and are one win away from reaching 100 wins this season. Their PECOTA projections was 98 wins, so in that respect they have exceeded expectations. What was not expected, however, is the makeup of the roster heading into the playoffs.

The core group is there, of course. Clayton Kershaw will be the game one starter. Corey Seager and Justin Turner will be anchoring the left side of the infield. Yasiel Puig will be in right ( he and Dave Roberts will work out whatever issues they are dealing with right now, I’m sure of it. Something would have to be incredibly egregious to not have the best right fielder in the National League at his position). Other than that, one would not have been able to foresee who would be manning the other positions.

Behind the plate, Yasmani Grandal would have no doubt been the starter through the playoffs with Austin Barnes just being the backup. But between Grandal’s horrid slump and Barnes’ solid play, it could very well be a righty/lefty matchup behind the plate. Barnes has played so well everywhere, that it could be that Kyle Farmer makes the playoff roster, to have to ability to use Barnes at second. Grandal has started to turn things around behind the plate lately, and I hope it continues. The team is better when his bat drops are a big part of the lineup.

At first base, it will be Cody Bellinger and not Adrian Gonzalez. It still remains to be seen if Gonzalez will even make the first round roster because of the injury to his back. AGon had never been on the disabled list prior to the season, and now hasn’t played the majority of the year. Bellinger was just hoping for a September call-up, and now has broken the NL rookie home run record, and has a very good chance to hit 40. It will be sad not to see the Butter and Egg man out there playing, but he will be behind the scenes helping the other players in any way that he can.

The Dodgers traded for Logan Forsythe during the offseason, and re-signed Chase Utley. More offense was expected from Forsythe, and I don’t know if anyone can quite put their finger on what could be the issue there. Although again, he, like Yasmani, seems to be on the upswing at the right time. Utley, affectionately dubbed “Granddad” by people on Dodgers Twitter, could be used in platoons with Forsythe, and still remains a formidable bat off the bench.

The outfield is the most surprising to myself, though. The year started with Chris Taylor in Triple-A, primarily he didn’t play the outfield. Fast forward to the end of the season, and he will be the starting center fielder in the playoffs, batting leadoff. Who could have possibly seen that coming? Andrew Toles‘ unfortunate injury started it off, and through bad play of other players, Taylor garnered more and more chances to prove himself, and has done a fine job of it.

Injuries make sense as a reason someone different is starting at certain positions. Joc Pederson possibly not starting the playoffs in centerfield is a little different, though. Joc has seen flashes of brilliance with the bat, but hasn’t quite gotten it all together. After a truly sub-par season offensively, a great deal of tinkering with his swing, and a stint in Triple-A, Joc is back with the team, but is not starting full regularly. Pederson defensively is the best center fielder the Dodgers have, but if his bat doesn’t improve he will find himself not on the roster at all, and Curtis Granderson in left.

Granderson is not such a surprise, in that who he is as a player and person is exactly what the front office looks for. Exemplary character both on and off the field. He’s not as great defensively as maybe he once was, and he has not hit well since he has arrived in Los Angeles. Like with Forsythe and Grandal, maybe he’s on the upswing offensively? Hopefully?

Andre Ethier is back to playing again, sooner than he did last year. Could he be in left and Taylor in center? So many interesting possibilities, and so many veteran, clutch hitters to have on the bench.

As far as pitching goes, there are none more surprising than Alex Wood and Yu Darvish. Wood had an incredible first half, after starting the season in the bullpen, so much so that he made the All-Star team. He has regressed a little in the second half, but has worked on his mechanics and velocity to where he is back to being dominate. There has been chatter about moving him back to the bullpen for the playoffs, but I don’t think you can find a better number four pitcher on another staff.

Darvish was the last minute acquisition at the trade deadline that all the fans were clammering for. The right-hander is a good compliment to the left hands of Clayton Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill. This addition also makes it possible for Kenta Maeda and/or Hyun-Jin Ryu to be used out of the bullpen in the playoffs. Both could be quite formidable coming in for longer relief if needed.

Speaking of relief pitchers, Waker Buehler, the Dodgers’ number one pitching prospect, made his way from Single-A to consideration of being on the postseason roster in just one calendar year. That in itself is no small feat.

If you had told me at the beginning of the year that there could be a starter in the playoffs at first, left, center and behind the plate other than whom everyone was expecting, I don’t know if I would have believed you. Maybe one or two, possibly. We’re all aware of the injuries that have plagued this team in last years. But here we are. Oh, and still with a record higher than was projected, and the best record in all of the majors. I’d take all that, even if you told me there was a major slide somewhere there in the season. Still better than all the other teams, still a great bench, still winning the division. It doesn’t matter where the season goes, as long as you get to the goal in the end.

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)

 

Several Reasons to Stay Optimistic as Postseason Approaches

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It’s been a rather depressing end of summer for Dodgers fans, as the Boys in Blue couldn’t quite get much going through the end of August and the month of September. But today the Northern Hemisphere turns to autumn, and the Dodgers will be celebrating Clinchmas, and hopefully those losing days will fall behind them.

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Breaking Down the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Call: A National(s) Bias? 

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If you’ve been a longtime reader of this blog, you may remember last year when I did an article on the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting crew, and whether they were truly impartial to both teams. There was about a five minute gap between the Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals in that game. However, last night’s viewing of the game between the Dodgers and the Washington Nationals seemed to me to have a distinct D.C. slant, so I decided to go back and see if this was true, or if I was just being a biased fan.

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Dodgers Look to Continue Winning Ways Against Nationals

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Although there is still a lot of work left to be done, those of us in Dodgers Nation can breathe a little sigh of relief after the recent series in San Francisco. Our beloved team is starting to look like the powerhouse team it was earlier in the season.

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The Dodgers Will Turn It Around, But Will It Be Soon Enough?

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It’s difficult to even know where to begin when writing an article on the Dodgers these days. Last Monday, I was flippant. Friday, I was morose and somewhat at a loss for what to say, and now….really, what does one say?

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There’s Still No Need for Panic, but This Is Getting Ugly Very Quickly

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“Are you nervous?” my husband asks me before the Dodgers game. “Not yet,” I reply. I rattle off a number of reasons why not, that this isn’t the batting order that worked so beautifully earlier in the season, that the pitchers who got demolished in Arizona did really well against the same team the second go-round, Kershaw is on the mound.

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Dodgers Add Charlie Culberson, Josh Fields to Expanded Roster

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On Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected the contract of infielder Charlie Culberson from Triple-A Oklahoma City and reinstated right-hander Josh Fields from the 10-day disabled list.

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The Dodgers and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

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I watched some Dodgers games last week and they didn’t get any runs and the starting pitching gave up a whole ton of runs and there were players playing I didn’t know much about and some players I really like are hurt and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

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Dodgers Add Kershaw, Ethier, Segedin, Verdugo & Dickson to Expanded Roster

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(Mandatory Credit: Ross D. Franklin/AP)

The Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday reinstated left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw from the 10-day disabled list, recalled infielder/outfielder Rob Segedin from Triple-A Oklahoma City, selected the contracts of outfielder Alex Verdugo and infielder/outfielder O’Koyea Dickson from OKC and reinstated outfielder Andre Ethier from the 60-day disabled list.

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