Nearly every season for the last decade and more, at least one non-roster invitee to spring training ends up making the Dodgers' opening day roster, with varying degrees of success. Here is a look at the club's best NRI in recent memory, the stellar 2014 campaign of Justin Turner.
What went right
Nearly everything went right in 2014 for Turner, who signed a minor-league contract with the Dodgers on Feb. 5, just three days before pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch.
Turner, a Cal State Fullerton Titan who played his high school baseball at Mayfair High in Lakewood, turned in one of the most productive seasons in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Turner hit .340/.404/.493 in 109 games, and with his 155 OPS+ had just the 25th 150 OPS+ or higher (minimum 300 plate appearances) in franchise history since the team moved west in 1958.
The list of Los Angeles Dodgers to hit .340 in at least 300 plate appearances in a season is quite short: Tommy Davis (1962), Mike Piazza (1995,1997), Matt Kemp (2007), Hanley Ramirez (2013) and Turner.
Turner was even better in the second half, hitting .388/.459/.566 in 50 games.
On the season Turner had 28 multi-hit games, which is remarkable considering he only started 67 times.
With runners in scoring position in 2014, Turner led the team (among players with more than 12 PA with RISP) by hitting .419/.479/.548 with 33 RBI in only 73 plate appearances.
Turner played all over the infield, starting 12 games at second base, eight games at shortstop and even two games at first base. But most of his time came at the hot corner, with 59 games and 45 starts at third base, including filling in more than admirably both times Juan Uribe was hamstrung on the disabled list.
What went wrong
Through May 10, Turner was just 10-for-57, hitting .175/.238/.228. Though we really just picking nits here, as it makes his seasonal numbers look even more impressive, hitting .381/.444/.558 in his final 81 games.
Turner missed three weeks with a hamstring strain in June and July.
The one glaring negative for Turner in 2014 was on defense, especially at shortstop, but he was really only an occasional fill-in at the position, totaling 86 innings before Miguel Rojas and, to a lesser extent, Erisbel Arruebarrena eventually took over backup shortstop duty. Turner had one particularly rough game in Milwaukee on Aug. 8, with two errors and one bad-hop misplay in the seventh inning, a four-run winning rally for the Brewers.
Turner rated above average defensively at third base — his primary position — by defensive runs saved, total zone rating and ultimate zone rating.
Salary: $1.1 million, including $1 million base salary plus $100,000 in bonuses based on plate appearances.
Game of the year
The Dodgers lost 53 of 54 games in 2014 when trailing after seven innings, but the one win was thanks in large part to Turner, who hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning on Aug. 21 to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory over the Padres.
Turner has four years, 45 days of service time and is eligible for salary arbitration for the next two seasons. He does have one option remaining.