Justin Turner Is a Postseason Dynamo
The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since 1988. That's 29 years if you're counting at home, which is the year Kirk Gibson famously slayed the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 with a walk-off home run, perhaps the most memorable dingers in postseason history.
That Gibson blast took place exactly 29 years ago last night.
As an encore, Justin Turner celebrated that moment by pulling a Gibson of his own, slugging a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give L.A. a 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. This blast also handed the Dodgers a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.
On the anniversary of Kirk Gibson's iconic walk-off homer, Justin Turner writes another chapter in Dodgers history pic.twitter.com/eCPuvRu0Gt
â€” Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 16, 2017
Turner has crushed the ball in five playoff games this year, batting .429/.500/.714, which is good for a 222 wRC+. He's 9-for-21 with 2 walks, 2 dingers, and an MLB-high 10 RBI so far, and his heroics on Sunday night are just the continuation of what he's done in past Octobers.
Going into Game 2, Turner had a career slash line of .370/.471/.603 with an OPS of 1.074 in 87 plate appearances, 3 home runs and 18 RBI. After his 2-for-4 performance last night, his career postseason batting average now sits at .376 while his already ridiculous on-base percentage jumped even higher to .500.
That's correct, in 23 career postseason games spanning four seasons, Justin Turner has gotten on base half of the time he's stepped in the batter's box. That .500 OBP is good for second-best all-time in postseason history, and he's rubbing shoulders with some legends with regard to his OPS, too.
Highest career #postseason OPS, minimum 90 plate appearances:
1. Lou Gehrig - 1.214
2. Babe Ruth - 1.214
3. Justin Turner - 1.115 pic.twitter.com/vrDDAC1PUu
â€” Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) October 16, 2017
While it's debatable whether players in baseball can truly be given the label of "clutch," it's fair to note Turner generally seems to get the big hit in the playoffs when the Dodgers need it. ESPN noted Turner has 13 hits in 18 career postseason at-bats with runners in scoring position, and his .722 batting average is tops among players with at least 10 at-bats in that situation.
But Turner's greatness is not just relegated to October. The Dodgers' third baseman has been one of the best and most underrated hitters in baseball for the last four years. He slashed .322/.415/.530 in 130 games with an fWAR of 5.5 and a 151 wRC+ this year, which was seventh-best in baseball. Had he played more games, he likely would have been a six-win player and a legitmate NL MVP candidate.
Since 2014, Turner's fWAR of 18.3 is tied for 17th in MLB, while his 141 wRC+ is tied for 14th. Over the last two seasons, he's 11th in fWAR (11.0) and still 14th in wRC+ (136).
And now, Turner has become an even larger part of his own franchise's postseason lore.
Justin Turner ... you just joined Kirk Gibson as the only Dodgers with a postseason walk-off HR
Kirk Gibson's was 29 years ago today
â€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 16, 2017
That's a pretty good bit of company in which to keep.