Should Justin Turner Make the Team?
The Mets announced yesterday that Justin Turner will be the Mets backup first baseman going into the season. Even though Terry Collins seemed confident in Turner’s abilities to occasionally handle the duties, the natural middle-infielder has only played first base in one inning of one Minor League game. Not only would Turner playing first be odd, but also–as Ed Ryan of Mets Fever briefly mentioned–maybe Turner’s spot on the roster could be better used on someone else.
Turner became a fan favorite in Flushing during 2011 due to his explosive May, where he owned a .325/.378/.458 line with a whopping 20 RBI. However, the infielder only posted a .242/.325/.330 line the rest of the way–providing everyone with a much clearer picture of his capabilities. Also, Turner’s .097 ISO ranked seventeenth among second baseman with at least 220 PA’s–placing him between the likes of Jeff Keppinger and Wilson Valdez.
And while fans will point to Turner’s “experience” at second base for reason to keep on as a backup to Daniel Murphy, the red-haired infielder gloved an abysmal -19.7 UZR/150 in 642.3 innings at the position in 2011. His 1.6 UZR/150 at third base was better, but he only logged 277.6 innings there.
Granted, Turner’s .330 OBP and top-ten 29.0% O-Swing% (non-strike swings) were high points, but his lacking pop (.097 ISO), speed (7 SB in 487 PA’s), and defense (-19.7 UZR/150 in 642.3 innings at 2B) don’t exactly make him an ideal bench player. So if Turner should really be “fighting for his life” in Spring Training, labeling him as the go-to backup at first base over the likes of Zach Lutz and Josh Satin–more natural corner scoopers–seems to be illogical on the surface and in the deeper statistical world.