Justin Turner Wins Final Vote, Becomes 1st Time All-Star

It was announced today that Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals each won their respective All-Star Final votes today. A big part of this victory may be in part to a partnership between the two clubs to help get their players into the game. What also may have played into this were the comments by Kenley Jansen about the Dodgers fans and why the Dodgers did not have more All-Stars on the roster:

This seems to have really motivated Dodger fans to go wild on Twitter with the #voteJT hashtag. The effort to get Turner to Miami was so big that the traveling group of Dodger fans known as Pantone 294 had their own set-up at Dodger Stadium to get him there.

 

Talking about Mike Moustakas, this marks the second All-Star team for him. This may come as no surprise for fans who have followed him since high school, seeing as he was drafted 2nd overall in the 2007 draft and that he was the ninth overall prospect prior to the 2011 season by Baseball America.

Justin Turner making the All-Star roster, however, is a little more surprising. This stems from where he was drafted, his prospect status, and eventually being DFA’d by the New York Mets after the 2013 season.

Justin Turner’s Past

Turner was drafted as the eighth pick in the seventh round of the 2006 MLB draft, 204th overall, and never appeared on any top prospect lists. In 2010 with the Orioles, he was an honorable mention in John Sickles Top 20 Orioles Prospects list, behind at least a dozen players no longer in baseball anymore.

Turner went from the Cincinnati Reds, to the Baltimore Orioles, then to the New York Mets by 2010. With the Reds and the Orioles, Turner was a utility player and never a starter. In 2011, the Mets gave him 487 plate appearances in 117 games, mostly as a starter. He put up subpar results with 0.4 fWAR. The following season in 2012, he was given only 185 plate appearances in 94 games and accumulated 0.0 fWAR, which is to say none. It was more of the same in 2013, with 214 plate appearances in 86 games played for another 0.4 fWAR season.

The Mets DFA’d Turner following the 2013 season. Despite glowing reviews from teammates and writers covering the team, the Mets said Turner showed a lack of hustle. From here the Dodgers signed Justin Turner as a non-roster invitee before the 2014 season.

Turner Finds New Life With the Dodgers

Turner struggled early on with the Dodgers, hitting only .173/.241/.212 with a 33 wRC+ in his first 58 plate appearances. From there, Turner soon turned it on after scorching the baseball hitting .377/.439/.555 with a 186 wRC+ from 5/9 till the end of the season. In only 322 plate appearances in 109 games, Justin Turner was worth 3.2 fWAR for the Dodgers in 2014 hitting .340/.404/.493 with a 158 wRC+ overall.

In 2015 the batting average dropped, but Turner took up more of a starting role getting 439 plate appearances in 126 games, hitting .294/.370/.491 with a 142 wRC+ in the process. Not only did he have another great year with the bat, but became a better fielder at 3B and was overall worth 4.1 fWAR. He also went supernova against his old Mets in the playoffs hitting .526/.550/.842 in 20 plate appearances in the NLDS that year.

Going into 2016, this was a contract year for Turner and showed that he was durable enough to play a whole season. Turner played the most games of his career by far playing in 151, as well as getting the most plate appearances of his career with a massive 622.

His offensive slipped a bit, hitting .275/.339/.493 with a 124 wRC+, but he had a knee surgery before the season that seemed to bother him the first couple of months. Through 6/3, Turner hit merely .220/.320/.322 with an 81 wRC+ and only 3 HR. From 6/4 on, Turner amped up his game hitting .301/.349/.573 with a 146 wRC+ and 24 HR as one of the better hitters in the MLB. He also became one of the game’s best fielding 3B and had an overall value in 2016 of 5.6 fWAR.

Turner’s First Free Agent Contract

After his incredible last four months of 2016, and another excellent effort in the playoffs, Turner scored himself his first major contract in MLB free agency netting himself 64 million dollars over four years re-signing with the Dodgers. He was a bit of a risk for the Dodgers to sign long term, seeing that he was coming into his age 32 season and had only ever played more than 130 games and had over 500 plate appearances just one time in his career, but the value was there.

Turner has rewarded the Dodgers with their faith in him by putting up a monstrous line of .384/.473/.571, a 182 wRC+, and an amazing 3.9 fWAR just a week before the All-Star break. Dodger fans have returned the favor by going on a voting crusade and getting Turner onto the last spot on the NL All-Star roster.

This is amazing not only because Turner is a first-time All-Star at 32 years old, but because the player that finished second in the voting is the reigning NL MVP on the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant. Although Bryant is definitely deserving of an All-Star roster spot, it’s nice to see someone who has worked so hard to come from nowhere finally get recognized as the great player that he is.

Overlooked Superstar

While this is only the second season Justin Turner has really been a full-time starter, he has still had incredibly high value over the last four seasons. What many people who are not Dodger fans may not realize is that from 2014-2017, Turner sits at 16.8 fWAR, which is 14th by position players in the entire MLB in that time. That puts him over players like Andrew Mccutchen, Nolan Arenado, Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Longoria, Xander Bogaerts, Robinson Cano, and many other very good players. This is due to both his explosive line drive hitting bat, sitting tied for 12th with David Ortiz at a 145 wRC+, and his positive 21.2 defensive runs saved on defense in that time.

As it stands in 2017, Justin Turner has the highest first half batting average at .384 with minimum 250 plate appearances going back to 2002. Some reasons he may not have been voted in were that he does not have the monster home run power of Nolan Arenado or Jake Lamb, or that he was never a top prospect or drafted that highly, which Kris Bryant and Anthony Rendon had going for them in the final vote. But however it ending up happening, we have a very deserving Justin Turner as a 2017 All-Star, and that’s how it should be.