Daily Dodgers in Review: Justin Turner, season's great find

Dodgers in Review: Justin Turner is the season's great find

JUSTIN TURNER, 30, infielder

Final 2014 stats: .340 batting average, seven homers, 43 RBI, 21 doubles and 46 runs in only 288 plate appearances, with .404 on-base and .493 slugging percentages

Contract status: Arbitration eligible

The good: One of the great surprises of 2014. There was some understandable concern the Dodgers had lost too much versatility when Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker left in the off-season, but if anything, Turner proved even more effective.

He played second, third, shortstop and even a little first base. He was a great teammate who seemed to grow more comfortable as a Dodger as the season progressed. He hit .388 with a .459 on-base percentage in the second half and had 16 hits in final 32 at-bats. Seemed to take off when he had to take over at third for the injured Juan Uribe. Hit .419 with runners in scoring position.

The bad: Despite his final overall numbers, he actually got off to a poor start. Through May 7, he was hitting only .174 (nine for 52).  Although he showed a good glove at third, he committed 12 errors overall and had the lowest fielder percentage (.953) of any Dodger who appeared in at least 70 games. Missed three weeks with a strained hamstring in mid-season.

What’s next: Arbitration eligible players must be tendered a contract by Tuesday and expect him to receive one.

The take: Former GM Ned Colletti loved to fill his roster with the versatile type and often would offer a veteran struggling to stick in the majors an invite to spring without a guaranteed contract. That’s the pool Turner, Chone Figgins and Brendan Harris came from last spring, all non-roster invitees signed to minor league contracts.

Harris didn’t stick and Figgins washed out, but Colletti struck gold with Turner. He overcame that slow start to become a vital player off the bench and as a spot starter.

The former Cal State Fullerton star may have found himself a late-career home.

 

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