Justin Turner thought he was on the right path even before the Mets non-tendered him following the 2013 season. But had the Mets kept him, the Dodgers’ All-Star third baseman isn’t convinced his career would have taken off like it has in Los Angeles.
“Who knows? If I [stayed] with the Mets, maybe I would be completely out of baseball now,” Turner said Sunday night after he homered, doubled and scored three runs in helping the Dodgers complete a season sweep of the Mets with an 8-0 victory.
It isn’t quite to Daniel Murphy proportions, but Turner keeps reminding the Mets what they could have had: one of the best players in baseball.
Turner, a Met mostly used as a reserve from 2010-13, has found himself in Los Angeles, developing into one of the premier third basemen. He made his first All-Star game this year and is leading the National League with a .349 batting average to go along with a through-the-roof .990 OPS and best-in-baseball .443 on-base percentage.
He made significant changes to his swing late in 2013, working with then-teammate Marlon Byrd, and had a strong September that year, driving the ball more than he ever had in his career and producing a .929 OPS. Still, the Mets let him go, and like Murphy — his one-time teammate in Queens now with the Nationals — it has come back to bite them.
Lifetime against his former team, Turner is hitting .296 (24-for-81) with six home runs and 16 RBIs. It hardly compares to Murphy, who is hitting .404 (49-for-121) with 11 doubles, eight home runs, and 34 RBIs in 31 games, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
“Obviously, there’s a little bit of in the back of your mind you want to do good and have success against the team that thought you weren’t good enough to stay with them, but that’s a long time ago,” Turner said. “I want to be successful against everyone.”
Turner belted his 13th homer of the year to the opposite field in the third, but his first-inning stolen base was arguably the game’s most important play. Initially, he was called out, ending the inning, but after a review, the call was overturned. The Dodgers scored three runs after that against Steven Matz on singles by Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes. For good measure, Turner added a double in the eighth and scored on National League Rookie of the Year front-runner Cody Bellinger’s 32nd homer of the season.