This is Part 51 of a series in which every member of the 2015 Dodgers has his season juxtaposed with an episode of the greatest sitcom of all-time. Don’t take it too seriously.
Justin Turner, IF
Key stats: .294/.370/.491, 16 home runs, 60 RBIs in 126 games
Seinfeld episode: “The Pitch” (Season 4, Episode 3)
Justin Turner used 2015 to complete his career transformation from a valued utility player to an everyday, middle-of-the-lineup threat. In the process the Dodgers traded Juan Uribe and groomed Chase Utley — one of the longest-tenured second basemen in the game — to be Turner’s backup. For Turner, the year was nothing short of an unqualified success.
To hear the 30-year-old from Lakewood tell it, the reason behind his transformation was simple: more playing time and a more repeatable batting set-up.
“Before, from day to day, I’d take different leg kicks trying to feel good,” Turner said in June. “In the off-season, ‘13-14, that was one of my main goals, to to try to get somewhere I could repeat it, have a foundation and know where I need to be.”
Turner needed surgery after the season to clean up some loose bodies in his knee. The surgeon also performed a microfracture on Turner’s fibula, but the procedure was minor enough that he was able to begin running on flat ground Thursday.
Turner projects to contribute 2.8 WAR next season, which if anything seems low based on his strong 2015 campaign. Is his transformation really a simple case of learning to stay within one’s self?
If so, the arc of Turner’s season isn’t unlike the arc of the Seinfeld episode “The Pitch” — most famous, probably, for coining the phrase “show about nothing.” Jerry is given the opportunity to pitch a sitcom pilot to NBC. He dabbles with various ideas, none of them good, before George tells him to make a show based on his mundane life:
It’s an art-imitates-life version of how the actual Seinfeld pitch was born — a star akin to the Dodgers’ red-haired menace.