Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

There’s never been a Dodger quite like Justin Turner

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Miami Marlins Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,California.  Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2015

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Chris Heisey, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alex Guerrero, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Carlos Frias, P

By Jon Weisman

Justin Turner’s knee is still stiff after taking a foul ball Monday, and Joc Pederson is “a bit worn down and beat up,” so they are resting tonight along with Andre Ethier against Arizona lefty Robbie Ray.

I can barely remember how I lived before Baseball Reference’s searchable Play Index came into my life, but a perfect example of the irrational pleasures it provides me came Monday night, when I got it into my head to figure out where Turner ranked offensively in history among Dodger third basemen.

3BOPSI knew it would be high, but I didn’t realize it would be this high. Turner has the highest OPS in Dodger history for third basemen, and it’s not even close. At .983, he’s nearly 40 points ahead of Dick Allen, .164 ahead of Pedro Guerrero and .172 ahead of Jackie Robinson. (Click the box at right to enlarge the top 20.)

I can’t get the caveat out fast enough that this list comes with a small minimum of 200 plate appearances while playing third base, and that Guerrero and Robinson are the true leaders in this category. That’s one of the things I love about the Play Index — it’s as useful for serious research as it is for a fun goof.

But still, I can’t resist finding a little bit of meaning in Turner topping the 50 names that qualify for this particular, idiosyncratic group. You expect him to be like any of the others in that collection of names, and he’s just not. He’s unique. Which suits him, I think.


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  1. leekfink

    Very interesting, on a number of fronts. Caveats appreciated, but those caveats raise some interesting questions. That Jackie had such good numbers at 3B is somewhat surprising. My understanding is that he was shifted over there mostly later in his career (in “The Last Great Season” it seems to indicate that he had essentially lost the 2B job to Junior Gilliam, but ended up winning the 3B job). The point being simply wow about how good Jackie Robinson was to have great numbers at a position he played largely on the downside of his career.

    The other thing is noting the idea that Pedro Guerrero and Jackie are the real leaders at the position is funny because of just how few games they spent there. They have about 2 or 3 seasons worth of games and PAs at the position. Jackie, if I am right about the above, was probably pretty consistent at 3B for a period of time. But Pedro Guerrero got his playing time there over that span of his 10 years with the Dodgers. Filling in for Cey here and there from 1979-1982, while he also played rotating outfield positions. While I don’t remember Jackie, I became a fan in 1982 and I can go from my 7-year old memory, knowing that he was at the heart of the Dodger batting order in the mid-1980’s, but it seemed like the goal was to always get him away from 3B–but I guess he was the starting third baseman for that NL West Championship team. 1985 he famously started there, and Tommy put him in the outfield at the end of May and he went on to a huge June and the rest of the season, inspiring the Bill Madlock trade. He missed most of 1986 (or at least much of it, so that his return did not matter), but I remember him as an outfielder until the crowded outfield in 1988 put him back at 3B. But I think he shifted to 1B once they decided Mike Davis did not work, at least until he was traded. So it’s funny that the offensive leader at 3B was a guy we were trying to get away from the position.

    Which brings us to the third funny thing about 3B, and it is probably well-known. The Dodgers just basically have not had a regular 3B other than Ron Cey (and maybe Adrian Beltre–who spent both longer than it seems at the hot corner, and clearly not nearly enough time for us). First base would give you Hodges, Parker, Garvey, Karros, and even a decent chunk of time by Loney. Jackie Robinson, Davey Lopes, Steve Sax all were long-time second-basemen. Pee-Wee, Maury, Russell, and even Furcal spent long stretches at SS. But 3B seems to be a constantly changing position, right up to and including this very moment, where we seem to have one guy who was supposed to the be the starter and we traded before June, one guy getting a bulk of the playing time but is a super-utility player that they always say cannot be an every-day player, one guy who seems to have maybe the best offensive potential of all but questionable fielding and trying to find ways to play him elsewhere (surprise–his name is Guerrero too!), another utility guy that we are giving some starts to, and all of this to keep the seat for a 30-year old Cuban rookie who we project to be in LA by the All-Star Break (all of which may still be keeping the seat warm for a 20-year old uber prospect who may or may not be too big to play SS).

  2. oldbrooklynfan

    Amazing. I knew Turner was doing exceptionally well but I never thought this.

  3. I was trying to get this to work to find out where Billy Cox fit in, since he was undoubtedly the greatest defensive 3B in Dodger history.

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