Try this one on: Justin Turner, all-star.
Not sure of the fit? Think it’s just too unlikely?
No Dodger is going to be voted on the starting National League lineup. Those creating the NL squad have to take at least one player from every team, and with the Dodgers still leading their division, they figure to have more than one.
So maybe Zack Greinke is close to a lock, and certainly a strong case can still be made for Clayton Kershaw. As for position players, Adrian Gonzalez has some impressive numbers and it’s impossible to dismiss the output of and general buzz surrounding young Joc Pederson.
Yet Turner has been the Dodgers' most consistent bat. He’s been rather remarkable, really. And now he’s currently hitting third in the lineup, the spot generally reserved for your best hitter. It’s time to get him seriously into the all-star conversation.
“You just want people to hear about him at least,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “There are a lot of great players out there, but he’s kinda showing his value around the league.”
Turner is not going to make it at his primary position at third base. That position is loaded -- Colorado’s Nolan Arenado and Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier should make the team, but they’re well back of St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter in the voting.
But after the starters are laughingly voted in by the fans and the players choose the position backups and first eight pitchers, it’s up to the manager and his coaches to fill out the team. A utility spot is there for the taking, and Turner can play all four infield spots.
So why not Justin Turner, all-star?
Last year, he emerged as the team’s secret weapon. He would have easily won the NL batting title over Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen (.314), but he did not have enough at-bats for his .340 average to qualify.
This year, Mattingly is trying to use Turner carefully, concerned that too much playing time will negatively affect his knees. But Turner is third on the team in RBIs (32) and doubles (12) and tied for fifth in home runs (nine) despite only 159 at-bats -- almost 100 fewer than Gonzalez.
Turner has hit .338 since he joined the Dodgers last season, originally as a non-roster invitee. For someone who was waived by the Orioles in 2010 and granted free agency by the Mets in 2013, this is an amazing turnaround.
He said it’s taught him something about hard work and perseverance, even as success has finally, belatedly, arrived.
“I think whatever you did the day before is old news,” Turner said. “You have to go out there and continue to prove yourself every day and not take anything for granted.”
He started the season as a utility player, but he continued to hit so well he soon became the regular third baseman.
“I’ve never really been handed a spot on a team,” Turner said. “I’ve had to work and try to earn it every year. I didn’t change my mentality this year coming into spring training. A lot of guys are showing up with the intention of making a team and you have to prove yourself.”
The next team he makes should be filled with all-stars.