It’s time for another pro/con list about the Dodgers offseason. This time, we’re going to dig into Justin Turner. Should Los Angeles bring him back for a 10th season in blue, or should they let him go? Let’s look at the pros and cons for bringing JT back.
First, the pros:
Turner is a Dodgers legend, and even though he started his career by playing in three other organizations including in the majors with two of them, at this point it would be really, really weird to see him in another uniform. Turner is a team leader, a pillar of the community, and a guy they’ve talked about having a future with the organization even after his playing days — Dave Roberts has even mentioned JT as his eventual replacement as manager. Perhaps the biggest reason to bring JT back is that it just feels right.
But maybe even more importantly, he’s still a very good hitter. After a horrendous first month or so of the 2022 season, Turner was one of the best hitters in baseball from June on. He will eventually stop hitting, and his struggles at the beginning of the season put it in a lot of people’s minds that the regression might be here at last. But his last few months of the season suggest that he’s still roughly as good as he ever was.
But yes, there are cons:
The regression will come, and even though he recovered well in 2022, that first month or so showed us what it might look like when it does come. Will it be in 2023? No one knows, and that uncertainty is definitely an argument against bringing him back.
JT’s postseason performance the last two years also is cause for concern. Yes, it’s only a total of 13 games, but after being a postseason legend his first seven seasons in L.A., his last three playoff series have produced a .116 batting average and a .356 OPS. Recency bias is real, and what we remember in our minds is JT unable to catch up with postseason fastballs.
And finally, there’s the question of defense. When Turner came to the Dodgers, he was a man without a position, and he turned himself into a very good defensive third baseman. But one area where we’ve definitely seen the effect of age is his defense, and nearly half of his plate appearances came as the designated hitter in 2022. That proportion only figures to skew even more towards DH, and the Dodgers have mostly shown a preference for using the DH to rest multiple players rather than having a full-time DH.
If the Dodgers are going to bring Turner back, it might have to be with an understanding that his role is changing. As a part-time DH and a bat off the bench, he could provide offense that would, when combined with his leadership in the clubhouse and the dugout, make it more than worth it to bring him back.
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