Two months into Justin Turner’s third season with the Dodgers, Dodger fans were quickly concerned over the production of their starting third-basemen. During the first two months of the season, Turner’s production was certainly not what Dodger fans have come to expect after his first two seasons. Coming off offseason knee surgery, J.T. started the season by hitting a mere .236 AVG/.335 OBP/.342 SLG with 3 home runs and 16 rbi — not quite the production you’d like to see from your number 3 hitter.
The Dodgers’ early offensive woes certainly should not rest solely on Turner’s struggles, but the team has been in search for any type of spark to get their offense going this season. The team currently ranks 29th in the majors in both batting average and slugging percentage, while sitting at the middle of the pack in runs scored (19th).
Since the month of June, Turner looks to have provided that spark for the Dodgers’ offense leading them to their best month of the season (15-12) including a stretch of winning eight out of nine games. Turner has broken out of his two-month cold spell and is hitting .316, with a team leading 8 home runs including six doubles while driving in 22 runs during the month of June.
Turner’s saw his June production nearly double the months of April and May in the power numbers as he totaled the same amount of bases in a little over half plate appearances:
Justin Turner, 2016:
Apr/May: 7 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 57 TB, 194 PA
June: 6 2B, 8 HR, 55 TB, 98 PA
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) June 27, 2016
Turner saw his home run to fly ball rate almost triple since the first month of the season, jumping from a pedestrian 6.25 HR/FB% to a respectable 21.6%. Turner also saw his line drive rate increase by almost 5% with a 26.6% line drive rate during the month of June. All this advanced sabermetrics signals Turner is squaring up the ball and it’s shown with his league leading 255-feet average batted balls over the past 15 days.
Perhaps more than numbers are concerned, Turner made his leadership present in the clubhouse after he initiated one on one meetings with Dave Roberts following a series loss against the Giants back on June 12. Since then, Turner and Roberts have been vocal about the team holding players accountable for their performance and actions within a game. This new open communication among the team led the Dodgers to their best run of the season winning eight games in a nine game stretch.
Challenging the team to find their identity, J.T. continued his torrid hitting; smashing six of his eight home runs in June while hitting .360 over the past 17 games. Since that meeting, the Dodgers have gone 10-7, winning three out of their four series.
Turner’s numbers this season vs right handers are still not quite where Dodger fans would like to see, but the improved month shows promise that the consistency J.T brought the past two seasons may be on it’s way back. Turner was able to raise his season numbers to .254/.326/.453 with 7 home runs and 34 rbi against right handers on the season. Still ways to go from the .312 avg with 11 home runs and 39 rbi from last season.
Despite the slow start for J.T. his power numbers are still on pace to have a better season than his first two seasons with the Dodgers. Turner is on pace to drive in more runs (77) and hit more home runs (22) this year, both career highs.
With Turner’s consistency came run production. Turner’s ability to drive in runs is a reason he has locked himself into the number 3 spot in the lineup. This season, Turner is tied for the team lead in rbi with potential all-star, Corey Seager (38). Turner also leads the Dodgers with a .308 average with runners in scoring position, good enough for top 10 at his position (min 50PA).
With Utley’s surprisingly steady season hitting leadoff and Seagers’ rookie of the year campaign, Turner’s resurgence can only mean positive things are coming for the Dodgers’ offense. Turner mentioned that opening up the communication in the clubhouse has been “eye-opening for everyone,” at the very least it looks like J.T. has picked up the offensive slack. We can only hope A-Gon, Puig and Grandal can do the same as the pitching staff gets through their latest pitching injury woes.
Although Turner’s recent bat resurgence has earned him some consideration for June player of the month, an All-Star bid is highly unlikely with the likes of Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant holding down the hot corner. Dodger fans can only hope his hot hitting can continue throughout the second half of the season. Given that the team is mainly made up of youngsters, it is the veterans like him that should and, hopefully, will be leading this team.