Justin Turner leaves an amazing legacy
With the season now over and possibly his Dodger career let’s take a look at the amazing accomplishments of Justin Red Dream Turner.
At 28 years old Turner was a career utility player who was inexplicably released by the Mets in the winter of 2014. Ned Colletti jumped on the chance to get the valuable utility player in the spring of 2014 and he would end up being the Dodger starting 3rd baseman for almost three years. His story is amazing and Dodger fans were lucky it was a Dodger story.
“I got a chance to re-create my whole identity when I came over here,” Turner said, and each step of his route to the plate reveals the keys to his evolution: The breathing techniques he learned on the field and in the classroom at Cal State Fullerton. The swing he rebuilt after the New York Mets released him in 2013. The physique he reshaped after his first season in Los Angeles. The knee he rehabilitated from microfracture surgery last winter, emerging from the process a sleeker defender with more power than ever before.
It left me asking these questions.
Is Justin Turner the greatest Dodger free agent signing ever?
Depending on how you want to define a free agent he’s probably the greatest free agent signing by the Dodgers ever. You could argue for Kirk Gibson if you want, and he certainly had more impact in one season, but he can’t touch what JT did during his three-year reign. You could argue for Brett Butler who put up a wonderful 15. 1 bWAR during his first free agent run with the Dodgers, but Butler had a four-year run not three. Manny was all world in 2009 before his PED suspension. JD Drew had a nice two-year run but not three. Rafy Furcal has the highest bWAR of any Dodger free agent, accumulated over his five-year run. Very comparable to what Brett Butler did in the about the same number of at-bats. Of course, Justin Turner put up a bWAR of 13.1 in almost half the plate appearances of Butler and Furcal.
I’m going to stick with this. Kirk Gibson had the most impact of any Dodger free agent, while Justin Turner was by far and away the best value along with being the best.
Course you could argue that all the players below except Justin Turner were free agents of the truest sense over their run. Justin Turner was simply signed as a non-roster invitee and the Dodgers owned him for the next three years.
Is Turner the best Dodger 3rd baseman over a three year period?
This is so close between Ron Cey and Justin Turner. Cey was so good for so long that he had two excellent three-year runs that were comparable to Justin Turner. As much as I would like to crown Justin Turner I can’t deny the Penguin his due. Ron Cey is still the greatest Dodger of all time no matter how you try to cherry pick the numbers. Adrian Beltre easily owns the greatest season for a LAD 3rd baseman, and when you figure in his 2004 into a three-year run from 2002 – 2004 you still have a player in consideration.
Was Justin Turner the best position player over his three year Dodger career?
You betcha. He’s been the best position Dodger by bWAR over the past three years, and it is not close.
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