In case you missed our first edition of Dodger Greats, Then and Now, here’s the drill: We’re taking a look at Dodger heroes past and present, just for kicks, and maybe learning a little something about how the game has changed in the process. Today, we’re checking out Ron Cey and Justin Turner (thanks to Steve for the suggestion!)
Third Base: Justin Turner and Ron Cey
Ron Cey called the 1977 Dodgers the most talented team he ever played with, and for good reason. That team was the first of consecutive National-League pennant winners for then-manager Tommy Lasorda, thanks in part to some excellent pitching and the most successful infield in MLB history (consisting of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Cey).
In that year, Cey was 29 and in his seventh MLB season. Justin Turner, meanwhile, was 37 in 2022, his 14th season. Cey played in 153 games, Turner played in 128, and both called Dodger Stadium their home turf. It’s worth noting as well that Turner split his time this season between third base and designated hitter, but more on that when we get to defense.
Though Turner trailed Cey in plate appearances in their respective seasons — 532 compared to 669 — both batters managed a similar number of hits, with 130 total for Turner and 136 for Cey. And while Turner hit 36 doubles to Cey’s 22, his 13 homers were blown out of the water by Cey’s 30. In fact, Cey was part of the first 30-homer foursome in MLB history, alongside teammates Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker, and Reggie Smith.
Much of these third basemen’s stats are fairly similar across the board, though Turner does have the higher batting average on the season (.278 compared to .241) and Cey managed to draw nearly double Turner’s number of walks.
Ron Cey vs. Justin Turner at Bat
This is where things get sticky. Of his 128 total games, Turner only played 66 at third base, appearing in the rest as DH. Cey, meanwhile, played all 153 of his games on the bag. We can still get some interesting metrics by looking at stats on a per-game basis, though. For example, Cey turned about one double play every five games, while Turner was slightly better with one every four. Then there’s range factor (putouts + assists), or how many outs you can expect a player to help get per game. Cey clocked in at 3.16 for his season, while Turner hit 2.59
Ron Cey vs. Justin Turner on Defense
Awards and Honors
Cey finished eighth in MVP voting and was selected to the All-Star Game in 1977. Turner didn’t secure any playing-related awards this year, but he was named the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award recipient after five career nominations in previous seasons. The prestigious award honors a player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”