What a difference a year makes.
This time last year Justin Turner was a free agent after the New York Mets decided against bringing him back. Turner remained a free agent until February when the Los Angeles Dodgers offered him a minor-league deal. He worked and impressed enough to make the Opening Day roster and the rest became his best season to date.
Turner ended up participating in 109 games, 67 starts at four different positions, and hit .340 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs. The majority of his starts came at third base after Juan Uribe was down with injury. By the end of the season, Turner had become the unsung hero of the Dodgers season and a fan favorite. His “Turn Down For What” walk-up song combined with his bright red hair and beard to make his return to Southern California a great one. He even dropped the puck recently at the Los Angeles Kings game for Dodgers Pride Night.
The now 30-year-old was born in Long Beach, attended Cal State Fullerton and his deal with the Dodgers became a homecoming of sorts. Turner was easily the best move of the offseason for the NL West champions. Not only did he do an admirable job filling in at different positions, but he also became a threat as a pinch-hitter. In 30 at-bats as a pinch-hitter, the utility infielder hit .400 and had 10 RBIs.
Turner will return to the team next season and likely fill the same role as last season, although the Dodgers could decide to start him at shortstop if Hanley Ramirez doesn’t return. Either way, Turner will be counted on for more of the same in 2015.
Happy 30th Birthday, Justin Turner!