Back in Spring Training, Justin Turner was technically a candidate for the open second base job. When I say “candidate,” think in terms of the 2008 Republican primaries–and Justin Turner was Fred Thompson. Essentially, Turner had no chance to win. However, the big difference between Fred Thompson and Justin Turner, is that Turner actually had something to offer (whereas Thompson was just a cool Law & Order character).
Turner, who is 26 years-old, was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2006 draft. The second baseman had a variety of solid seasons in the minors, posting a career .309/.373/.442/.815 line in 5 minor league seasons. His best performance, however, came once he arrived in Triple-A for the Mets. Turner posted a sensational .333/.390/.516/.906 line with 11 home-runs, 35 RBI, 58 runs-scored, and 5 stolen-bases in 348 plate appearances in Triple-A.
Despite Turner’s impressive Triple-A stint–including a riveting final game where he went 6-for-6, and hit for the cycle–his September call-up was nowhere to be found. What more could a minor leaguer do to get a call to the majors? As disappointing as the so-called “snub” was, it obviously hasn’t affected Turner’s motivation. In fact, Mets manager Terry Collins said during Spring Training, “People are not mentioning him, but he’s [...] having a very, very good winter. He had a very good finish in Triple-A. So we’ve got to include him in that [second base] mix.”
It took a Brad Emaus designation-for-assignment for Collins’ comment to ring true, but on April 19, Turner finally got his first taste of orange and blue in 2011. So far this season, Turner has posted an impressive .318/.362/.455 line with 1 home-run, 10 RBI, 7 runs-scored, and 1 stolen-base while battling Dan Murphy for playing time at second base. Given the recent David Wright injury, Turner will slide over to third base to fill the void, finally getting a chance to showcase his abilities as a starting player. In the world of mediocre replacement players, Mets fans might actually find a little bit of solace with Turner getting his turn.