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Dodgers: Justin Turner Should Be Just Fine

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.

Months
I Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+
April/March 140 89 445 398 34 115 26 1 2 41 2 2 29 81 .289 .351 .374 .726 149 14 12 1 5 0 4 .353 77
May 165 124 555 488 65 138 31 0 11 73 7 2 51 74 .283 .361 .414 .775 202 22 11 1 4 2 10 .312 89
June 155 122 576 503 81 152 26 2 25 86 5 0 55 61 .302 .381 .511 .892 257 11 12 1 5 1 5 .301 115
July 138 105 504 447 60 130 34 0 14 56 2 3 43 79 .291 .363 .461 .824 206 11 10 0 4 3 3 .324 99
August 177 139 652 577 77 161 40 3 24 82 10 1 52 99 .279 .354 .484 .838 279 14 18 0 5 3 4 .298 102
Sept/Oct 183 139 635 552 89 168 46 2 17 75 6 2 64 94 .304 .385 .487 .873 269 11 12 2 5 5 9 .339 111
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/21/2019.

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.

Statcast Information

From Baseball Savant we can see some of the Statcast information to see the comparables to 2018.

Stat Type 2018 2019
Barrel % 7.7 3.6
Exit Velocity 89.1 89.5
Launch Angle 18.3 13.1
Hard Hit % 36.7 39.3
K % 12.7 21.3
BB % 11.0 13.5
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.

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 03: Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (10) is congratulated by Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Max Muncy (13) after hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the 1st inning during a MLB game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets on September 3, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA.(Photo by Joshua Lavallee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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.

Final Thoughts

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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Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. I agree, the launch angle and fly ball/ground ball percentages will improve. He’s still maintaining the same hard hit rate and exit velocity, the rest will and should even out (hoping his walk rate stays high and his K rate drops a bit though). Pointing out his spring training power numbers is a good point, he didn’t just drop off a cliff instantly. Notoriously slow starter so I’m not panicking personally….yet haha

    • Great pic! And I had a T shirt with that pic and my wife made me throw it away! I had it before we were married. Ha! Anyway, I agree. Turner is a tough out. The last few games he hasn’t got many hits; but still has had a higher BA than Seager. Now Corey is heating up; and I expect Justin to do the same. He has been a slow starter over the years. But I think this year he has been a victim also of the umpires. They are calling a lot of low (below the strikezone) pitches as strikes. Not just on him, but I think he has had more than his share at this point. That will go the other way as it always does. I have seen quite a few games or parts of games on the tube this year. So, Justin will be OK. His launch angle will creep up. And then, This team will be unstoppable.

  2. Tim appreciate your articles and great stats. I agree in that Turner is a notorious slow starter in the Power department. I am not concerned…

  3. It seems to me that Turner is hurting himself by trying to have every pitch that is a fraction off the plate called a strike but the Umps are not giving him the eyeball recognition as had prior. He then gets himself behind an reaches for the pitch. I believe his best asset was being able to command being behind in the count and now is more victim to it.

  4. There was no good reason to sign Machado, Tim. Otherwise, good article, with the correct conclusion.

    • Congrats on your 100th article. I think Turner will be all right, but I admit being worried about the lingering effects of that broken wrist. Power does not return easily from that kind of injury. I don’t think we can expect 25-30 HR from Turner from here on out. Even 15 HR a year might be a stretch.

      (By the way, Machado a “back-up to Seager” for $300 million? No way. Machado is a slug, and the Padres will be looking to dump him on someone else less than halfway through that ridiculous contract. Good riddance.)

  5. I agree, there was no justification for signing Machado. Dodgers are doing just fine without him. As for JT, slow start but I do not believe there’s any reason to worry. He will get to where he needs to be offensively. In the interim, the rest of the team will continue filling whatever “gaps” there are to win games.

  6. Turner this season seems to be on the Umpires a lot. That kind of thing might be getting to his concentration. In previous years he seemed unconcerned when a slightly bad call was made. Maybe he is just losing it a bit as he ages and not so focused. Still he is hitting OK so there shouldn’t be a lot of panic. The Panic should be with the pen. Kenley is nowhere near what he once was, he just doesn’t throw that mid 90s fastball any more to go along with the cutter. Kelly is terrible along with the usual suspect Baez. It’s time for a new closer as Kenly wasn’t that good last year either.

  7. I think its just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. JT will figure it out, and when he does….Now bring me some of that pizza Bellinger was craving in Milwaukee. I predict it will be a Dodger Pizza & Beer kind-of celebrating year. A lot of fennel sausage and peperoni wins with the occasional anchovy from Kenley.

    • Lol about the pizza. Bellinger is kind of refreshing to hear. Pizza…and ice cream, his other favorite–yeah, the kid is just 23 and enjoying himself. It is good to see.

  8. Is it just me or does it appear that Turner is much closer to the plate this year? And when they throw an inside pitch that is a strike, he complains to the umps.

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