Former Mets Infielder: Justin Turner (2011-2012)

Justin Matthew Turner was born on November 23rd, 1984 in Long Beach California. The red headed six foot infielder attended California State University at Fullerton, getting named freshman All American by Baseball America. He was named to the 2003 College World Series All Tournament team as a short stop.

In 2005 he was drafted in the 25th round by the AL New York club but did not sign. He signed in 2006 with the Cincinnati Reds in the 6th round. Turner hit well in the minor leagues hitting .300 or better in five of six seasons.  

In December of 2008 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Ryan Freel in exchange for Ramon Hernandez. He hit .300 at AAA Norfolk & and earned himself a September call up, debuting in Boston going 0-2 in a 10-0 loss to the Red Sox. In 2010 he began the year with the Orioles but was hitless in five games, he was demoted & placed on waivers. On May 25th he was picked up by the New York Mets.

With the Mets he batted .333 in 78 games at AAA Buffalo making an impression on a team with a lot of openings at the big league level. At the start of the 2011 season, Terry Collins gave Brad Eamus the starting second base job out of Spring Training. After just 14 games he lost his position & was gone.

Justin Turner began the year at AAA Buffalo where he hit .300 in ten games and was brought up to the replace Eamus. He took over the spot & was the clubs main second baseman through the year, as Daniel Murphy took over at first base in place of the injured Ike Davis.

On May 7th Turner came in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter of a tie game with the bases loaded. He singled off the Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Guerrier putting the Mets ahead for the win. On May 15th in the middle of an eight game hit streak, Turner drove in five runs with a three run HR &two run double, leading the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Astros in Houston. On May 19th his fourth inning RBI single was the only run of the game as he helped Dillon Gee to a 1-0 victory.

The next day in the first matchup of the subway series with the cross town rivals, Turner drove in the first run of the game with a double off Freddy Garcia. Daniel Murphy would later hit a HR leading the Mets to a 2-1 win. Turners incredible month of May had him drive in runs in seven straight games that week & then another six games closing out the month. He set a Mets Rookie Record with seven consecutive games with an RBI. He was also named the May NL Rookie of the month.  

He stayed over the .300 mark into June before tailing off his hot hitting. On June 22nd, in an interleague game at Citi Field against the Oakland Athletics he singled in the 8th inning scoring Jose Reyes with the go ahead run. The A's tied it in the 9th but in the bottom of the inning Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored thw winning run. In the month he drove in eleven runs & then in July added a ten game hit streak. On August 6th Turner hit a pair of HRs driving in four runs against the Atlanta Braves in an 11-7 New York win.

A month later on September 9th, he won another game with a ground rule double against Sean Marshall to beat the Chicago Cubs. On September 22nd with the Mets down to the Cardinals 6-2 in the top of the 9th inning, Turner began a big Mets rally by walking with the bases loaded. He later came in to score the tying run on a Willie Harris base hit, as the Mets went on to an 8-6 win. On the year he played in 117 games batting .260 with four HRs 30 doubles 51 RBIs & a .334 on base %.  

In 2012 Turner played more of a utility role, as Daniel Murphy took back over at second base.

On April 26th Turner came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down to the Florida Marlins 2-1 facing Heath Bell. He drew a walk scoring David Wright with the tying run & the Mets won it on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' single. He got to see more playing time when Ruben Tejada went down with injury, as he played shortstop in rotation with Jordanny Valdespin. Then Turner missed a month of action going on the DL from late May into late June.

When Johan Santana threw the first no hitter in Mets history, it was Turner who gave Johan a pie in the face during the post game interview. It certainly did not seem the right time, after a history making moment to do something like that. Although the good natured fun loving Turner has always been the jokester in the Mets club house.  

In June he doubled driving in two runs in the subway series helping the Mets to a much needed 6-4 win. At the All Star break he was batting .289 as the Mets finished off a successful first half of the season.

Their second half was nowhere near as good as they fell to fourth place. On August 25th he hit his first HR of the year & hit his second a month later at Citi Field in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 94 games he batted .269 with 2 HRs 13 doubles & 19 RBIs. The versatile Turner played at second base (14 games) first base (11 games) third base (11 games) & short (10 games).

In 2013 Turner improved to a .280 batting average, 2 HRs 13 doubles & 16 RBIs while playing in 80 games, playing at all infield positions as well as one game in left field. Turner was certainly a favorite of Terry Collins & another in a fine history of good Mets utility players. But the Mets did not see a future with Turner & let him go to free agency where he signed with the LA Dodgers.

In Los Angeles, Turner matured into a fine everyday player. In his first year there he hit a walloping .340 (in 288 at bats) with 7 HRs 21 doubles & 43 RBIs in 109 games. He got into his first post season where he went 0-2 in the NLDS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 2015 Turner was the NL West Champion Dodgers main third baseman, he also played a few games at first, short & second base. He put up career highs in all offensive categories 16 HRs 26 doubles 60 RBIs 55 runs scored in 126 games with a .370 on base %. He batted .294 as well. 

He was salivating to get back at his old Mets team mates in the 2015 NLDS & he delivered. Turner led his Dodgers with ten hits in 19 at bats for a .526 average. He set an NLDS record with six doubles, hitting at least one in all but one game. 

In Game #2 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles he had a pair of doubles driving in a run in the Dodgers 5-2 win. In Game #4 at Citi Field in New York, he drove in two of the Dodgers three runs with another double. That night he & Clayton Kershaw led the team to victory forcing a Game #5. He came back in Game #5 with two more doubles & an RBI in the Mets 3-2 win.

After the Dodgers were eliminated he had surgery on his left knee. He also signed a one year $5.1 million deal to stay in L.A. & avoid arbitration.

In 2016 he returned as the Dodgers full time third baseman (144 games) while having his biggest season to date. He tied for the club leader with HRs (27) & RBIs (90) while coming in second in doubles (34). He batted .275 & scored 79 runs helping L.A. to a western divisional title. He also had eight sac flies (6th in the NL) & was hit by 13 pitches (also 6th in the league).

At third he also posted a .972 fielding % (4th best in the NL) making just nine errors.

2016 Post Season: In Game #1 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, turner hit a two run off Matt Scherzer putting his team up 4-0 in a game they would win 4-3. He got two more hits in Game #2 & drove in a run in Game #4. In the decisive Game #5 he tripled in the 7th inning bringing in two big runs as the Dodgers went on to beat the Nats 4-3 taking the series & advancing to the NLCS.

He continued to stay hot in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, in Game #3 he hit a solo HR off Cubs ace Jake Arrietta, as L.A took the game to take a 2-1 series lead.
In Game #4 he came to bat with the bases loaded in the 5th inning, and hit a shot that went off the pitchers glove and into left field scoring two runs.

In his eight year career, he is batting .282 with 58 HRs 138 doubles 176 walks & 282 RBIs in 704 games. He is set to cash in in the off season as he will be a highly sought after free agent.

Quotes on leaving New York: “I don’t know what happened but obviously my career has kind of taken a turn for the better once I put the Dodger uniform on,” said Turner


Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)

Willie Mays "The Sey Hey Kid #24": The Mets Years (1972 - 1973)

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

The 1970's Oakland A's Ball Girls- (MLB's First)

Fictional Mets Infielder Chico Escuela ( of SNL) Visits Mets Spring Training (1979)