Justin Turner has now accumulated 85 plate appearances for the battle-scarred New York Mets, putting time in mostly at 2B and 3B. His slash line is a pretty astounding .329/.376/.468, and in 25 games, has driven in an incredible 18 runners! Over the past 14 days, he’s been the 67th most valuable player in the typical Yahoo! Public League scoring format. Pretty amazing for a 26 year old, completely unheralded rookie. So WHO is this guy, and does he have ANY chance of keeping this performance up?
Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 7th round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Turner actually had a pretty nice minor league career. After over 2,200 plate appearances from Rookie Ball through Triple-A, Turner averaged a slash line of .309/.373/.443 (note how similar these numbers are to his current stats), while flashing good gap power, the occasional homer, and decent speed on the base-paths. Still, despite his success in the minors, he never really got a full time shot until this season. From 2009 – 2010, he managed only 40 plate appearances at the Major League level and yet, continued to mash in the minors. At age 25, Turner produced probably his best minor league season, hitting .316/.374/.487 with 12 HR and 30 doubles over 443 plate appearances. For some reason, the maligned Orioles (the Reds had traded him to Baltimore as part of a 2008 deal that swapped Ryan Freel for Ramon Hernandez) decided to waive the obviously productive youngster. He was promptly picked up by the Mets, who gave him an opportunity to win the starting 2B job out of Spring Training.
Unfortunately, the options game came into play, and with Brad Emaus being a Rule 5 pick, Turner never really had a fair shot. He was sent packing to Triple-A to start the 2011 season, but he wouldn’t be gone for long. With poor production from the start, and a new regime that doesn’t tolerate such things, Emaus was sent packing, and Turner was called up. At the time, he had accumulated 44 plate appearances in Triple-A, and was hitting .300/.364/.475. Notice a remarkable and consistent trend in stats here? His minor league numbers have been insanely consistent throughout his career, and now, finally given the chance to show what he can do at the Big League level, he’s just raking like he always had. Still, is Justin Turner really a .330 hitter at the Major League level?
Probably not. His BABIP right now is an unsustainable .368 and, while he has decent wheels, they aren’t of Ichiro-make, meaning his batting average will inevitably fall into a more realistic range. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. Given his track record, and the fact that he is a patient hitter who simply doesn’t strike out, I can definitely see him keeping up a good batting average and decent run production. He’ll never hit 20 homers in a season, but there’s not reason to think he can’t hit .285-.300 with 10-12 HR’s and 10 or so SB’s. With 2B eligibility, that presents pretty good value.
The Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: .305, 10 HR, 56 RBI, 50 R, 8 SB