It seemed like the oddest of places to celebrate a seventh consecutive National League West title: At Camden Yards, against a bad Baltimore Orioles team, the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrating with a group photo in blue “October Reign” T-shirts and the B&O Warehouse in the background.
Justin Turner sat on the ground in the middle of the congregation Tuesday night, holding up seven fingers. He has been with the Dodgers for six of the division crowns — Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the three holdovers from the 2013 team that initiated this run — and in many ways Turner is the perfect symbol of how the Dodgers have built this dynasty.
The Mets had non-tendered Turner after the 2013 season, and he inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers with an invitation to spring training and a $1 million salary if he made the big league club. He was merely insurance at second base when he signed in early February 2014, a backup plan if either Alex Guerrero — remember him? — who had just signed out of Cuba for $28 million, or prospect Dee Gordon didn’t work out.
Turner, of course, had started to revamp his swing, and he hit .340 that first season with the Dodgers. He became a star, with top-10 MVP finishes in 2016 and 2017, and he eventually would earn a much larger payout with a four-year, $64 million contract.
Turner actually was a Ned Colletti signing, as Andrew Friedman took over as head of baseball operations following the 2014 season. So give the Colletti front office some credit for this run of division titles: It was under him (and scouting director Logan White) when Kershaw was a first-round pick in 2006 and Jansen was converted from a weak-hitting catcher to a fireball-throwing reliever.