Saturday, May 21, 2011

Le Grand Justin Turner

Rusty Staub was beloved as a Met, setting numerous club records during his underrated career. So cherished was Rusty in New York that the team honored him with "Thanks Rusty Day" on July 13, 1986.

Mets players poured out of the dugout wearing red wigs in appreciation of Le Grand Orange, a key player in the march to the National League pennant in 1973 and one of the best pinch-hitters of all-time during his second stint with the Mets in the 1980s.

It's been 25 years since the Mets honored their red-headed sparkplug. Now the Mets have another in Justin Turner.

The arrival of Turner came "Justin" time for the Mets.

Justin Turner quietly put together a successful minor league career, hitting .309 in five minor league seasons. A doubles machine, Turner hit 124 two-baggers in the minors, a number surpassed by only 16 players in Mets history (including Rusty Staub, who hit 130 doubles for the Mets).

Now given the chance to play every day for the Mets due to injuries to Ike Davis and David Wright, Turner has flourished. Entering tonight's game, he was hitting .364, continuing his doubles onslaught with seven two-base hits in only 55 at-bats. With his first-inning RBI single, Turner broke Ron Swoboda's 46-year-old rookie record for consecutive games with an RBI (seven). Over those seven games, Turner has driven in 12 runs.

Terry Collins will have a dilemma on his hands when Ike Davis and David Wright return from their injuries to play first base and third base, respectively. Who will lose playing time between Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner? Will the lefty-swinging Murphy platoon with the right-handed hitting RBI machine? Has Turner earned the opportunity to play every day? Will someone be traded?

One thing's for certain. In the '70s and '80s, Mets fans were treated to the fantastic play of Le Grand Orange, Rusty Staub. It's been over a quarter century since Rusty announced his retirement. Now the fans have a new redhead to cheer. Le Grand Justin Turner is winning the hearts of Mets fans all over the city and making opposing pitchers see red every time he drives in another run. Not bad for a guy who only had four major league hits before 2011.


Anonymous said...

I don't see how he can't at least get a shot at platooning at 2B when the regulars return.

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

As long as he keeps producing, Terry Collins would be a fool not to give him more than just a platoon. If he did platoon with Murphy at second base, Murphy would get the majority of the at-bats as a left-handed hitter since most pitchers are right-handed. However, Turner was actually hitting .424 against righties entering tonight's game (14-for-33) and then he improved on that after his RBI single against the right-handed A.J. Burnett.