All-Star rosters were released today, and I’ve seen some mention Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner on lists of notable snubs. That Turner could even be considered as a potential All-Star is remarkable, since he began the season as a part-time player and only became the primary third baseman for the Dodgers in the final days of May. The relatively unknown Turner is now hitting 3rd most nights in a Dodger lineup full of superstars and multi-millionaires.
Now, if Turner really is for real and the rightful centerpiece of the Dodgers lineup moving forward, the question then is, what the hell took Dodger manager Don Mattingly so long to figure that out? Over the last year or so (excluding July 2014 when Turner was hurt and only had 14 at bats), Turner’s monthly OPS numbers have been 1.013, .969, 1.192, .749, .991 and .999. For whatever reason, Donnie Baseball just didn’t think that Turner looked like a real baseball player until he had been mashing for an entire year.
So fine, whatever, Mattingly was slow on the uptake. So what? Well, if you recall, the Dodgers lost in the first round of the playoffs last year to the Cardinals, losing three games by a combined four runs. Turner’s predecessor, Juan Uribe, started all four games and slashed a miserable .118/.118/.118. Meanwhile, Turner, coming off a .388/.459/.566 second half, received a grand total of two at bats in the series. You don’t think the difference between a red-hot Turner and a clearly ineffective Uribe could have been worth a run or two over four games?
This oversight may have been lost to most at the time, likely overshadowed by the endless supply of Mattingly’s other confounding decisions. But in hindsight, Mattingly’s failure to recognize much sooner that Justin Turner is an everyday player, if not a star, may have been his biggest bungle yet.