After having one of the best seasons of his career in 2013, Justin Turner became a free agent as the New York Mets opted to non-tender him, which paved the way for his signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Turner went on to become an integral part of the Dodgers roster last season and is filling a similar role thus far in 2015. His career hasn’t always been one filled with success, however, and former teammate Marlon Byrd is one to credit for Turner’s swing.
After working with Byrd over the offseason, Turner returned in 2014 and had a great season, posting a slash of .340/.404/.411. He spoke of the success and explained the role Byrd played in it, via Eno Sarris of Fangraphs.com:
His ideas fit really well with what I was trying to do and where I was trying to get to. That offseason, even after the Mets let me go, I was hitting five days a week with Marlon.”
Turner hit seven home runs in 2014 and drove in 43 runs to help push the Dodgers to another National League West division title. His success has trickled into the 2015 season, as he has already blasted five home runs in just 27 games.
Byrd’s ideas sparked Turner’s interest because it was opposite of what most hitters are told to do in the batters box:
The old saying is ‘stay back stay back stay back.’ Well, he was talking about doing the opposite,” said Turner. “Not backing the ball up, going out and getting it. Being aggressive and get out there and get on your front side, get off your back side.”
This philosophy has clearly paid off for the 30 year old, as he continues to be one of the most consistent hitters to come off of the Dodgers bench. Although he is just 2-for-9 as a pinch-hitter this season, his two hits have been home runs and he has driven in five runs.
Additionally, Turner’s hot bat has led to a larger role that’s meant regular starts at third base in recent weeks.