Justin Turner keeps getting better. It’s not common to see a player peak so late in his career and it causes skepticism for people. The Dodgers third baseman didn’t see a jump in the surface stats in 2017 since he played 21 fewer games than the previous year, but his skills seemed to improve.
Turner played in 130 games and had 457 at-bats. He batted .322 with 72 runs, 21 home runs, 71 RBIs, seven stolen bases and a .945 OPS. Many seemed to value the 2016 stats from Turner as an outlier considering the way Turner was valued in 2017 drafts.
In 2016, Turner batted .275 with 79 runs, 27 home runs, 90 RBIs and an .832 OPS. He proved it was no fluke. Turner improved his contact rate in a big way going from a 17.2 percent strikeout rate to a 10.3 percent rate last season. The walk rate increased from 7.7 percent to 10.9 percent.
Turner hit a lot more fly balls last season, going from 40 percent to 47.8 percent, but surprisingly didn’t see a big uptick in home runs. He had a 10.8 percent HR/FB rate in 2017 and it was 14.8 percent in 2016. He should have had more than 21 home runs and continued to hit the ball extremely hard with a 38.9 percent hard hit rate.
Surprisingly, Turner struggled against left-handers in 2016. The right-hander batted .209 with a .640 OPS. However, he turned things around last season, mashing lefties with a .380 average and a 1.181 OPS.
Turner needed an opportunity to play every day, something he didn’t get when he played for the New York Mets. In three seasons with the Mets, he batted .267 with eight home runs. The Dodgers gave him a shot in 2014 and he flourished in 288 at-bats, batting .340 with 46 runs, seven home runs, 43 RBIs and an .897 OPS.
Turner can help Fantasy owners across the board and is an asset in batting average, a category that often goes undervalued. In the last four seasons, Turner has batted .340, .294, .274 and .322. The .340 season was in 109 games and was inflated by a .404 BABIP, but Turner has a floor of .290 and is likely to hit over .300 based on his improved eye at the plate and penchant for hitting the ball hard. He also bats third in an extremely good lineup and the counting stats will be excellent. There’s more power potential, too. If you miss out on a top tier third baseman, don’t hesitate to draft Turner.