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Justin Turner, the king of spring training

Turner makes his 2021 debut on Monday

FEBRUARY 26, 2021: Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner at a workout at Camelback Ranch.
Photo credit: Jon SooHoo | LA Dodgers

Spring training stats are, for the most part, devoid of meaning. But it doesn’t mean they can’t be fun.

The results don’t matter in these games, which are first and foremost about getting players — especially pitchers — ready for the regular season. It’s why I root for a tie in every single spring training game, and why I let out an audible gasp when Matt Davidson hit the game-deciding home run in the final inning on Sunday.

Spring training stats can be incredibly entertaining, like when Yasiel Puig in his very first spring training lit the world on fire, hitting .517/.500/.828. It led to someone asking manager Don Mattingly how he could send such a player to the minors. Mattingly, in a perfect deadpan delivery, said, “Usually, I just tell them.”

I don’t remember exactly what I was looking for a few weeks back, but on Justin Turner’s page at MLB dot com, I stumbled across his spring training stats and was struck by just how ridiculously productive he has been in the exhibition season. This is a pattern dating back to his very first spring with the Dodgers seven years, when he was a non-roster invitee on a minor league deal, “fighting with Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers, Chone Figgins and Brendan Harris for likely two open spots.”

It was a different time.

These are Justin Turner’s yearly spring numbers (from left to right: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS) since joining the Dodgers in 2014
Screenshot from Justin Turner’s page

Turner has raked every single spring. The batting averages are gaudy, with only two of seven years below .400, and only one spring OPS with the Dodgers in triple digits, when he managed only a meager .970 in 2018.

In all, Turner in 117 spring training games and 321 plate appearances with the Dodgers has hit a whopping .424/.502/.727 with 17 home runs and 31 doubles. In his previous seven springs — with the Reds, Orioles, and Mets — Turner hit .260/.304/.372 with five home runs and 11 doubles in 248 PA. This mirrors Turner’s ascension since joining Los Angeles into one of baseball’s best hitters, though his spring numbers are extreme even for that.

Naturally, the all-time Dodgers leader in getting hit by pitches has also been plunked 10 times in spring games since 2014, including once breaking his wrist three years ago, costing Turner the first 40 games of the regular season.

Turner makes his spring debut on Monday for the Dodgers, who are home at Camelback Ranch against the Rockies.

Game info

Teams: Dodgers vs. Rockies

Location: Camelback Ranch

Time: 12:05 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA