Justin Turner’s game-tying blast in the ninth inning of last night’s game against the Phillies is hopefully a sign of things to come. The Dodgers captain has had a very slow start of the season. Although it’s not uncommon for JT to struggle in the early part of a season, Turner is hitting just .211 in 121 plate appearances entering Saturday.
The 37-year-old slugger thinks hitting mechanics, not his age, are the cause of his sluggish start (quotes via LA Times’ Jack Harris)
“I think it’s easy to point out in my case. But a lot of other guys are going through it too. So what’s the excuse for those guys? I don’t think pointing a finger at my age is fair.”
Baseball is a tough sport. Turner, once non-tendered by the Mets, knows that better than most. Hence why he’s not throwing himself a pity party anytime soon.
“Obviously, it looks uglier when it’s the first month. But you can’t really sit and look at the scoreboard and feel sorry for yourself…you’re still coming in every day and trying to hone things in.”
Turner has featured a slightly more open stance this year, and has adjusted other parts of his swing. JT noted this week that he thinks he found something “sustainable” from a swing standpoint. It’s a small sample size, but in his last four games, Turner has six extra-base hits and a 1.605 OPS in 15 plate appearances. Maybe the swing truly is dialed in now.
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The other part of the equation is the veteran’s plate discipline which has long been a strength of Turner’s. But this year, it’s been a glaring weakness thus far. JT is swinging at 34.3% of pitches out of the strike zone. That’s his highest rate since 2010 (18 PAs).
He also owns a career high 9.3% swinging strike percentage this season. His walk percentage (7.4%) is his lowest since 2013.
Now, it’s still early and Turner’s career splits suggest that better times are ahead. History is on Turner’s side, but time, may not.
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