Often the MVP goes to the best player on a contending team. So why does the best team in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, not have a good candidate?
That is the thing — they do. And no, it is not first baseman Cody Bellinger. Bellinger may have NL Rookie of the Year locked up, but the Dodgers also have a legit contender for the league’s most prestigious honor.
Third baseman Justin Turner is having easily the best season of his career and one of the best seasons of anyone in baseball. He leads in batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS+.
Turner is an elite hitter in a less publicized way, as well. He currently is taking his free passes more than he is striking out. Only five players can say the same right now: Anthony Rendon, Joey Votto, Anthony Rizzo, Mookie Betts, and Dustin Pedroia.
This season for Turner is reminiscent of Hanley Ramirez’s 2013 campaign. After missing significant time to injury (like Turner did earlier this season), Ramirez slashed .345/.402/.638 and smacked 20 home runs. He posted the 10th-highest WAR in the NL among position players at 5.4. Not bad for only playing 86 games.
It is a crime that Turner had to rely on the final vote to get into the All-Star Game. His slash line looked even more disgusting than his current .367/.463/.570. Players do not put numbers like that up anymore. What Turner is doing right now is ridiculous, and he is flying under the radar because loads of other guys are having monster seasons as well.
Turner’s 4.2 WAR is third in the NL, and that is after missing significant time with a hamstring injury. He is on pace to have a higher WAR than Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant did last year. In case you forgot, Bryant won the MVP last year.
It cannot be overstated how good Turner has been this year. Even if he does not win the award, this season will be remembered for a long time.