Justin Turner the gift that keeps on giving
Justin Turner is the most important cog of the 2018 Dodgers and the biggest reason why the Dodgers are headed to Fenway to battle the Red Sox for the 2018 World Championship. The proof is really in the pudding when you consider the Dodgers record on May 16th, and the Dodgers record after Justin Turner returned to the lineup.
Justin Turner was not only the 2018 Dodgers MVP but he gave back to the Dodgers in a way that only baseball could appreciate. When Justin Turner got hurt in the preseason the Dodgers turned to Logan Forsythe to fill his place at 3rd base, but luckily for the Dodgers, Logan couldn’t hit and more importantly, he got hurt on April 14th. With both Turner and Forsythe on the DL, the Dodgers dipped into their system and pulled up journeyman minor leaguer Max Muncy. Edwin Rios had also gotten hurt in the spring so Max Muncy was getting full-time work in AAA at 1st / 3rd something he would not have gotten if Rios has not been hurt. Rios was the prospect, Muncy was depth.
The Dodgers used that depth and hoped that Max could plug the hole for a couple of weeks. Max did his job, he wasn’t great, but he did hit a respectable .788 OPS during his run at 3rd base. That was enough for Dave Roberts and the brain trust of the Dodgers. Something in how Max Muncy performed convinced them to keep him on the roster even when Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe returned. Even more shocking, they started Max at-bats at 1st base and moved Cody Bellinger to CF.
The rest is Dodger history
Max Muncy doesn’t exist in Dodger lore if Justin Turner doesn’t get hurt in the preseason. He simply doesn’t.
Justin Turner for his part has been making a case as the greatest Dodger 3rd baseman in history. I’ll revisit that for the 3rd time after the season is over. Justin Turner was, however, the best offensive infielder in the NL in 2018. Except for the guy who replaced him in April.
Player OPS+ PA Year HR BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Max Muncy 161 481 2018 35 .263 .391 .582 .973 *35H4/7D Justin Turner 151 426 2018 14 .312 .406 .518 .924 *5/HD Matt Carpenter 143 677 2018 36 .257 .374 .523 .897 *354/HD
To put this in perspective, the Dodgers had the two best hitting infielders in the NL in 2018 and neither of them was Corey Seager or Manny Machado.
Justin Turner and Max Muncy, they shall forever be intertwined on the long Dodger vine that extends toward the Blue Heaven that Tommy Lasorda often waxes fondly about.