Justin Turner is off to a start that has some fans a bit worried. They worry because he’s 34, he has an injury history, and hasn’t hit a home run yet — simply, his numbers aren’t where fans expect them to be. Some wonder if they should have kept Manny Machado (I was in favor of re-signing him myself as insurance for Corey Seager). We’ll take a look at what Turner has done in the past to see if there is some good news coming.
Early Season History
Through April 21, Justin Turner is slashing .260/.372/.286 (AVG/OBP/SLG) without any home runs and only 8 RBI. Based on the table below Turner doesn’t really turn on the power until June so the lack of home runs could have been predicted. The OBP this year is bucking the previous trends a bit in a good way but the SLG is down quite a bit. Last season JT didn’t even have an April due to his broken wrist. His OBP shows that he is drawing walks and is still respected by the opponents.
Remember Spring Training?
Turner had an amazing Spring Training in 2019 when the pitchers are usually ahead of the hitters. He slashed .457/.552/.783 with 6 doubles and 3 home runs in just 46 at-bats. This should be a big encouragement to those that are concerned about JT. Did he really just lose it, pretty much instantly? I truly doubt it. Maybe there is some minor injury impacting his performance but my guess is that he’s just slumped a bit. Injuries and slumps happen to every player and Justin Turner is not exempt.
From Baseball Savant we can see some of the Statcast information to see the comparables to 2018.
|Hard Hit %||36.7||39.3|
|Ground Ball %||29.4||41.1|
|Fly Ball %||30.0||21.4|
|Line Drive %||33.5||33.9|
|Pop Up %||7.0||3.6|
The only number that concerns me is the “K %”.
The “Barrel %” and the “Launch Angle” should improve as Turner emerges from his (for him) slump. With the expected “Launch Angle” improvements, that “Ground Ball %” will go down. When someone is in a slump, one of the reasons is they just don’t see the ball as well as they normally do. This is part of being a human being as every hitter goes through slumps.
Any Signs Of Improvement?
Sunday’s game had some encouraging signs as Turner did drive the ball a bit, including getting robbed by Lorenzo Cain of a sure double. The last five games though have seen only one base hit but he’s still getting his walks. It has to be frustrating for Turner as he knows he will turn the corner. For now, keeping him sandwiched between Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger seems to be reasonable since he’s still getting on base. One thing that the Dodgers cannot do is have Turner and A.J. Pollock back-to-back until both get their bats going. With Bellinger behind Turner the pitchers will try and pitch to Turner a bit more instead of Cody.
Sometimes, the calendar just needs to move forward enough for slumps to end. In this case, it is a power slump. The exit velocity is fine so there is no reduction in actual power. By the time Justin Turner finds his power bat the team will need it more. Other players have stepped up to fill the void from Turner’s power slump. Fortunately, despite the power drop, he can still turn a two-strike at-bat into a 12-pitch nightmare. That approach will eventually be a big reason that the power will come back as he’ll see the ball better and make better contact.
Note: This is my 100th article for Dodgers Nation. What a great ride so far.
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