Yesterday, Justin Turner was named the National League rookie of the month in May, a well deserved honor. During May, Turner hit .325/.378/.458 with one homer, eight doubles and twenty runs batted in. In addition, he struck out just ten times and accumulated a win probability added of 1.039 (essentially one win added to the team) over the course of the month. This accolade begs the question: could Turner be a serious Rookie of the Year candidate?
On the season, Turner is now hitting .314/.357/.457 with two homers and 22 RBI in 32 games played to go along with a WAR of 1.0, according to FanGraphs. The Mets have had four winners of the Rookie of the Year award: Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Doc Gooden (1984). Had it not been for last year’s exceptional rookie class, Ike Davis might’ve finished higher than seventh (Jay Payton placed third in 2000). So how does Turner stack up against the NL competition?
Turner ranks favorably in terms of batting line categories. He is currently second among NL rookies in average and OBP behind the Cardinals’ Allen Craig, whose average and OBP are .347 and .420 respectively. Despite smacking only two long balls (Washington’s Danny Espinosa leads the way with ten), Turner is third in slugging percentage, trailing Craig (.551) and Arizona’s Juan Miranda (.463). His RBI total of 22 ties Craig and ranks behind Espinosa (33), Chicago’s Darwin Barney (25). Remember though that Espinosa has played in 56 games and Barney in 52, making Turner’s RBI total more impressive (Craig has played in just 36 games).
Looking at more sabermetric stats, Turner’s weighted on-base percentage of .355 sits behind only Craig (.432-sensing a pattern?) and the Diamondbacks’ Juan Miranda (.356). Furthermore, his wRC+ of 125 (where 100 is average) is good for second, behind Craig once again (176). He also possesses the second lowest strikeout rate (11.4%) among NL rookies, trailing only Barney (8.5%). Turner’s contact rate of 92.1% (second to Barney’s 93.2%) has made him a tough out, despite the low walk total (his six walks are last among the rookie class). Finally, his WAR of 1.0 is fourth, behind Espinosa (1.9), Craig (1.6) and Washington’s Wilsom Ramos (1.1).
So is Rookie of the Year in the cards? It’s too soon to tell, but Turner would have to keep hitting at his torrid pace and add some pop along the way. Still, for the Mets to such great contributions from a guy getting his first real shot in the majors has immense value to the team, whether he wins the award or not.