Justin Turner has excelled for the Mets since they scrapped the Brad Emaus experiment.
He has showcased his abilities even more since David Wright has went down with injury, filling in nicely at third base.
The New York Mets have relied on Turner the past couple of weeks. Offensively, he helped keep them in the Subway Series against the Yankees. Turner has been the productive bat in the Mets lineup since Ike Davis went down.
Like Davis, Turner has been one of the only Mets who has shown he can get the big hit with RISP.
But the long-term expectations for Turner should be tempered. Although Turner should be a contributor to the team in 2011 (and possibly beyond), he is a contributor and no more than that.
Unfortunately, performances like Turner’s have been the sort of thing that Mets fans have to get excited about because there is not much else going on for the team. Turner’s performance at both third base and second base this year can’t help but remind me of Ty Wigginton in 2002.
In 2002, Wigginton played 46 games for the Mets, hitting .302/.354/.526 in 127 plate appearances. The next year, in 2003, Wigginton, again, was a solid utility starter for the Mets. He played 156 games and hit .255/.318/.396 in 633 plate appearances.
In 2004, David Wright was called up as a rookie and usurped the hot hitting Wigginton (.285/.334/.487 in 86 games and 339 plate appearances for the Mets) before he was eventually traded to the Pirates.
Wigginton would go on to play for four more teams in the next five years. His solid and serviceable performance remained constant, as he displayed 20+ home run power and .800 OPS potential.
Justin Turner would be lucky to turn out like Ty Wigginton and Mets fans should remember that.
There are two kinds of utility players in this league. The first is the bread and butter utility player; the Joey Cora, Miguel Cairo, or more relevant here, Willie Harris. They are the guys you have on the bench to play when someone in your infield goes to the 15-day DL.
The second is the starting utility players; like Wigginton, Placido Polanco, Bill Hall or Chone Figgins. Michael Young is becoming one of these for the Texas Rangers, and probably the best in the league.
Is Justin Turner a savior for the Mets? With the most certainty I can conjure, the answer is "no."
Hopefully, Turner can be the utility player that Wigginton was for the Mets nearly a decade ago. The 2011 Mets need that, just like most teams in baseball need that type of player.