What happened in 2016: Had a slow first couple of months, but found his power and finished the season strong.
Justin Turner‘s third season as a Dodger didn’t start off all that well offensively. In April and May, he OPS’d just .678, with only three home runs in 194 plate appearances. He’d had knee surgery over the offseason, and it seems likely that his struggles at the plate were tied to that.
Turner showed vast improvement in June. He hit eight home runs for the month, and raised his slugging percentage by nearly 100 points. By win probability added, his best game of the season was June 17 against Milwaukee, in which he went 3-for-5 with two home runs and a game-winning RBI single in extra innings.
His July was even better. By just about every measure, it was his best month of the season. On July 21, he hit two home runs off of Stephen Strasburg.
What changed? Dustin explored this in an article he wrote in August. Essentially, Turner started “hitting the ball harder and with a higher launch angle.” As for the source of his prior troubles:
The microfracture surgery could very well be the biggest culprit. It could have interfered with his timing at the plate — which is much more important for him than almost any other Dodger because of his pronounced leg kick.
It’s also worth mentioning Turner’s excellent defense. Just a few examples of great plays Turner made this season:
Turner was one of the Dodgers’ most productive batters in the postseason as well, going 6-for-15 (with a triple and a home run) in the NLDS and 4-for-20 (with a home run) in the NLCS. He drove in a total of eight runs across both series. From Dustin:
He had the biggest hit in Game 5 of the 2016 NLDS against the Nationals, as he tripled off Shawn Kelley to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead (they would go onto win 4-3). He also homered off Max Scherzer and Jake Arrieta — the last two Cy Young Award winners — in October.
2017 status: Re-signed with the Dodgers for 4 years/$64 million. It’s a great deal for the Dodgers, especially considering how poor their other 3B options for 2017 were. Of course, as Chad wrote, JT was never going anywhere, anyway.