Justin Turner did it again last night when he drove a clutch double to the center field wall that scored the winning run as the Mets beat the Cubs 5-4 in walk-off style.
This was the second walk-off the season for Turner, who earlier won a game after he was hit by a pitch to force home the game winner for the Mets.
“This one definitely felt better,” Turner said. “I enjoy being in those situations, definitely.”
With two outs, a man on second and the game tied 4-4 in the ninth, the Cubs intentionally walked Jose Reyes, to face Turner who has excelled this season with runners in scoring position. In fact, manager Terry Collins had no worries seeing Turner up in that situation.
“Of all the guys on the team Turner is probably the most disciplined in those situations,” manager Terry Collins said. “He just wants to put the ball in play and he doesn’t care where it goes.”
Turner, 26, extended his hitting streak to a career high-10 games last night and he’s batting .372 (16-43) during that span. But more important than that, is his propensity to consistently come through in the clutch with runners in scoring position for the Mets.
Turner is now batting .366 with runners in scoring position, the fifth-best mark in the National League. Here are his peripherals with RISP this season:
93 AB – 34 H – 9 2B – 2 HR – 45 RBI – 17 BB – 10 K – .366 BA – .474 OBP – .527 SLG – 1.001 OPS
In comparison, clean-up hitter David Wright is batting .253 with a .772 OPS in 79 at-bats with RISP, while fellow middle of the order hitter Jason Bay, is batting .210 with an .644 OPS in 119 at-bats.
So where does that leave Justin Turner as far as his role on this team next season?
In my mind, there is no doubt he should be given every opportunity to claim the everyday second base job next Spring.
Just those 45 RBI’s in 93 clutch at-bats alone, is more than enough to justify having his bat in the line-up. Nobody else on the Mets can even touch Turner in those situations.
I’d rather have Turner and his .270 average playing at second base over another player with a higher average and on-base percentage, that shrinks in pressure situations. We’ve had our share of those types over the years.
Sometimes, you just have to go beyond the statistical data, and look at a player’s swagger and fearlessness when the game is on the line. Good hitters are not really that difficult to find, but players as clutch as Turner are the special ones and the ones you keep.