By: Chris Larson
The Dodgers offense has experienced it's ups and downs all season long, as any team does over the course of a 162-game season, but have really started to turn it up a notch since the beginning of September when it matters the most. That's why the Dodgers have created a 2 and 1/2 game lead over the Colorado Rockies, for first place in the NL West, and pushed the Arizona Diamondbacks out of first place, a position Arizona sat in for quite a while, during various points this season.
Collectively as a team, so far this season, the Dodgers have scored 735 runs, over the span of 5,204 at bats, putting them in first place in the National League and 6th overall, out of all 30 teams. Furthermore, the Dodgers have the most home runs (218) along with the most RBI (690), in the National League, and lead all of baseball with (608) walks, almost 25 more than the second place team in that category, the Washington Nationals.
During the course of the season, there have certainly been key impact players, who have helped the Dodgers generate as much offensive success as they have. For example, outfielder, Matt Kemp, had a first half for the ages where it appeared as though, he reincarnated himself into, an old player that both the Dodgers and their fans used to root for. Then, there's Yasiel Puig, who has been a force within the Dodgers lineup for a majority of the season, along with catcher, Yasmani Grandal, who is so underrated on the national spectrum and will likely have a nice payday coming this offseason, as he hits free agency.
However, there has been one guy in particular that has had the biggest impact on the Dodgers lineup of them all. Red Turn 2, JT, Red, Turn Bot, or whatever you want to call him, Dodgers third baseman, Justin Turner, is once again having a phenomenal season and practically carrying the Dodgers offense. A big reason why the Dodgers are just coming off a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies and have a 12-6 record over their last 18 games played, dating back to September 1st.
In fact, Justin Turner is having so big of a season, that if he didn't miss time earlier this season, with a left wrist fracture, followed by having to miss another 10 days at the end of July for a right groin strain, he could easily enter the NL MVP conversation. That is how big of an impact, Justin Turner, has on the Dodgers and a huge reason why the Dodgers elected to re-sign him this past offseason to a four-year, $64 million dollar deal.
For further proof of how much of an impact Turner has had on the Dodgers this season, just take a look at his batting line. To this point, Turner is hitting: .320/.416/.526 over the span of 325 at bats with 104 hits, 26 doubles, 1 triple, 13 home runs, 47 RBI, 44 walks, and 41 strikeouts. All of that equates to a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) value of (.342), the second highest of Turner's big league career, and a 4.0 WAR. Last season alone, Turner recorded a 5.4 WAR, so if he hadn't missed time with the two aforementioned injuries, he could easily be looking to top that number right now.
Two of the biggest qualities to like about, Justin Turner, is the fact that he has developed the reputation of being a second-half hitter over the majority of his big league career and is a very valuable weapon for the Dodgers against left-handed pitchers. Take a look at the graphic below for further proof:
However, just because Justin Turner does well against lefties, that doesn't mean that he can't provide value for the Dodgers, against right-handers, looking ahead to the postseason. Just take a look at the last line in the graphic below, which shows Turners stats, against right-handers. For a moment, assume that the Dodgers go onto win the NL West, and face the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. Out of the Braves five starting pitchers, all of them are righties with the exception of, Sean Newcomb. That provides the Dodgers with a huge advantage and something that will likely be talked about, as that series inches closer.
In addition, Dodgers skipper, Dave Roberts, has had Justin Turner in the second or third spot of the Dodgers lineup all year long, with the exception of exactly 7 at bats. Putting Justin Turner in both of those spots has paid off for the Dodgers and gives them someone, who can get on base, following their leadoff hitters, who have been either Chris Taylor or Joc Pederson. Once Turner gets on base, then the Dodgers have Manny Machado, Max Muncy, and Yasmani Grandal to throw at opposing teams, on a normal night. Although, the Dodgers know all about roster manipulation this time of year and certainly use it to their advantage depending on certain matchups, which could change how the batting order looks.
Beyond all of that, Justin Turner has also been extremely valuable in a multitude of different situations for the Dodgers, when he's been on the field this season. Take a look at the graphic below for illustration:
Based on the stats from above, the Dodgers know that if they have Justin Turner up to bat, with runners in scoring position or even one out in the inning, he is likely to do some damage and drive in some runs. The on-base percentage for both of those situations is very eye catching and something to add to the overall value of how tremendous Turner has been this year once again. If that's not enough, take a look at the on-base percentage for the last situation (late/close in the ballgame), where his on-base percentage is .383! That could play big for the Dodgers in the right situation this October.
In the end, the Dodgers have been a team that has certainly faced a significant amount of adversity and injuries all season long, but have once again prevailed and found a way to overcome those obstacles and challenges. A big reason why, outside of successful starting pitching, has been the lineup and guys like Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal, and yes, Justin Turner or Red Turn 2, JT, Red, Turn Bot, or whatever nickname you would like to coin him.
The next challenge for the Dodgers - to overcome their postseason struggles and finally make it over the hump. Something that will be worth watching come October.
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