MemberSeptember 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Justin Turner – Early Career
Justin Mattew Turner was born November 23rd, 1984, in Long Beach, California, to John and Betsy Turner. He also has a younger sister. Justin began playing baseball at Mayfair High School in Lakewood, California. Turner was something special even then. He earned All-Suburban first-team honors thrice as a shortstop and as a second baseman. In his senior year of league play, he hit .514. This resulted in not only league most valuable player honors, but also a league title. He then attended Cal State Fullerton, where he majored in kinesiology while playing for the Titans.
In his freshman year, Baseball America named him All American in 2003 (rookie season) playing second base. Justin made the 2003 College World Series, an all-tournament team, but as a shortstop. In 2004, JT played for the Titans, who defeated the Texas Longhorns in a two-game final to win the College World Series. In 2005 he participated in collegiate summer baseball in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
Draft and Minor Leagues
The New York Yankees selected him in the 29th round of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft. However, he declined to sign with them. The Cincinnati Reds selected him in the seventh round (204th overall) in the 2006 MLB draft, where he received a $50,000 signing bonus for staying with the organization. The Red’s Rookie League affiliate (the Billings Mustangs) is where Turner saw playing time at all four infield positions. As the season concluded, he was the team leader with a .338 batting average and a .921 on-base percentage.
The Rookie League concluded for him as the following years saw him play for Double-A Chattanooga. In 2008 he finished with a .289 batting average and a .792 on-base percentage. On December 9, 2008 (during the Winter Meetings), the Reds traded him to the Baltimore Orioles, where he received an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. He was eventually assigned to Triple-A Norfolk for the 2009 season, in which he played mostly second and third base, and he finished the year with a .300 batting average and a .749 on-base percentage.
Baltimore eventually purchased his contract on September 8, 2009, marking his Major League debut (at Fenway Park) in a pinch-hitting role for Melvin Mora. He ended up finishing the game at third base. On September 11th, 2009 (at Yankee Stadium), he got his first hit (a single up the middle) off Michael Dunn. He finished the season 3-18, appearing in 12 games, starting 3 of those games, and starts being at third base. The following year, he received an invitation to Spring Training as a 40 man roster member. Baltimore eventually demoted him to Norfolk at the end of Spring Training. Brian Roberts (their starting second baseman) was placed on the injured list on April 12th, 2010, which saw Turner recalled from Norfolk. May 21, 2010, the Orioles designated him for assignment.
Justin’s Time with the Mets
He never played for the Orioles again because, on May 25th, 2010, the New York Mets claimed him off of waivers. They optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. June 16th, 2010 is when the Mets would allow him to be a part of the Major League roster, but it took until May 15th, 2011 in which he hit his first home run (3 run shot) against the Houston Astros in which he drove in 5 total runs that day.
May 21st, 2011. During his play in the Subway Series, Turner set a rookie franchise record when he collected an RBI in a seventh consecutive game. In accomplishing this feat, it propelled him win Rookie of the Month honors – the first time a New York Met had bestowed this honor since 2001. May 6th, 2012, shortstop Ruben Tejada was placed on the injured list, which meant Turner began sharing time at shortstop with Jordany Valdespin until Tejada was healthy enough to retake his starting job.
JT’s time with the Mets, however, came to an end following the 2013 season, when the Mets non-tendered his contract, making him a free agent. His time with he Mets saw him play 301 games (which spanned over four seasons). He had a .265 batting average during his tenure. After the Mets release, he didn’t join the Dodgers right away. In fact, it took an alumni game (Cal State Fullerton) for the bench coach Tim Wallach to take notice of his swing. On February 5th, 2014, he signed a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. March 16th of the same year, his contract was purchased by the Dodgers, and he was added to Major League Roster.
Since his inclusion on the Major League roster, Justin Turner has been a mainstay on the club. He has enjoyed success throughout the years since. In 2014 he made the best of his time while injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe helped him contribute to the team with a .340 batting average, seven home runs, 43 runs batted in, and 288 plate appearances.
In 2015 he avoided salary arbitration and signed a one year deal worth 2.5 million dollars. All he proceeded to do was become the starting third baseman, have a .294 batting average, a career-high in home runs with 16, and drive in 60 runs batted. He got the opportunity to go against his former team that postseason (playoffs) against the Mets. He did everything he could and then some in the eventual series loss. Turner turned 19 at-bats into 10 hits, for a .526 batting average, which 6 of those hits setting a League Division Series record of 6 doubles.
His offseason consisted of arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He signed another one year deal, this time worth 5.1 million dollars, again avoiding salary arbitration. In 2016 was a career year for games (151), home runs (27), runs batted in (90), and batted .275. During this offseason, he signed another contract; however, he was for more age and more money (4 years 64 million dollars).
In 2017 Justin Turner made his first All-Star appearance for the team. In Game One of that World Series, he passed Dusty Baker with the most runs batted in with 14. 2018 came with the team nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award (humanitarian award) by the Dodgers. Once again, the playoffs were a spotlight that was not bright for him either, when he batted .333 in the World Series. Had the team won, he would have no doubt been awarded MVP. In 2019 he set another career milestone by hitting three home runs and getting six runs batted in a 9-0 beating of the Atlanta Braves. June 14th saw him round the bases for the 100th time, and it was off of Kyle Hendricks.
This season he has passed Zack Wheat with the most hit by pitches in franchise history at 74. OUCH! Turner also collected his 1000th run batted in (8/11/2020).
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