2011 Season in Review: Justin Turner

The New York Mets as a whole went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an on-going series, will analysis every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at second baseman Justin Turner.

Despite enjoying a superb Triple-A stint in 2010 (.333/.390/.516 lien in 348 plate appearances), Justin Turner didn’t get the look he deserved until 2011. With second base vacant due to the forced departure of Luis Castillo, Turner eventually fought-off Brad Emaus and Ruben Tejada over the course of the season for the majority starting time.

Turner’s finest month came in May, when he posted a .325/.378/.458 line with 1 homerun, 20 RBI, 9 runs, and 2 stolen bases. The stellar month earned him “Rookie of the Month” honors, while setting a Mets rookie record with an RBI in seven consecutive contests (12 RBIs total) from May 14-21, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 13 RBIs over a 15-game span from May 14-30 made him just the third big league rookie to do so–and first since 1930.

While the second baseman collected 12 RBI in June, his .209/.305/.275 line returned his high to a more pedestrian level. Turner would go on to have a good July (.283/.333/.349 in 114 PA’s), subpar August (.198/.293/.346 in 92 PA’s), and very good September (.279/.380/.361 in 72 PA’s). Overall, the rookie posted a combined .260/.334/.356 line with 4 homeruns, 51 RBI, 49 runs, and 7 stolen bases in 487 plate appearances on the season. It calculated to a 0.8 WAR or around a $3.5 million season.

Considering 2011 was the 26 year-old’s first full-season in the Major Leagues, Justin Turner should be pretty proud of himself. Even though he didn’t quite exhibit the double-digit homerun power he had at Triple-A in 2010 (just a .097 ISO in 2011), Turner has established himself as a pretty solid-hitting fringe starter. His 8.0% BB% ranked ninth, 12.1% K% ranked eighth, and 30 doubles ranked third among National League second baseman with 400 or more plate appearances. In addition, his .292 BABIP suggests his production is sustainable (and could possibly be better), and his 29.1% non-strike swing rate illustrates his educated grasp of the strike zone.

Unfortunately for Turner, however, his defense was not nearly as good as his offense. The infielder posted a dismal -19.7 UZR/150 in 642.3 innings at second base, and a more productive 1.6 UZR/150 at third base. Looking ahead to 2012, with Daniel Murphy being the more offensive second base option, and Ruben Tejada the defensive wiz, Turner’s chances of being the starter are slim. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the team. Turner never really appeared to be “starter material,” yet his value could be extremely high as an off-the-bench option.

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