Justin Turner has become a valuable veteran presence for the Blue Jays, but will it be enough?

Turner's hot start could be enough to propel the Blue Jays to success this season
Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros
Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages

Back in the end of January, the Toronto Blue Jays signed third baseman Justin Turner to a one-year deal, in an attempt at boosting a lineup that desperately needed more juice.

Turner was coming off of a nice season with the Boston Red Sox, putting up 23 home runs and an .800 OPS in his lone year in Beantown.

Was this enough to satiate a fanbase starving for action from the front office? Not exactly.

People took issue with Turner going into his age-39 season, and a player of such age being the "home run pickup" of the winter. However, amidst all of the disappointed fans that expected more from the front office, Turner has quickly shown his value within the first two weeks of the season.

Crunching the numbers on Justin Turner

In 11 games so far with Toronto, Turner has already been their most consistent hitter, and despite his age, he brings exactly what he's always provided at the major league level. His discipline at the plate combined with the pop in his bat have fully transitioned north of the border, and if it persists, it'll be of grave importance to a lineup riddled with uncertainty.

Turner is slashing .290/.410/.548 with an OPS+ of 179 to open the year. His five doubles lead the American League so far, and he's walked more than he's struck out. Obviously, it's clear that he's still a well above-average player despite his age, and while who knows if these MVP caliber numbers persist over 162 games, he adds something the Blue Jays desparately need.

Despite being 24th in the MLB in total hits, the Blue Jays sit in sixth for doubles with 21 already. Taking Turner away would put Toronto in 28th and 15th in these categories, respectively.

Even when it comes to the on-base numbers, the Blue Jays are 19th in baseball with a collective OBP of .305. Taking Turner out of the lineup would easily sink the number below .300, and would make Toronto one of the worst teams in that aspect.

The base statistics alone favour the argument that Turner is providing immense value to this club, and his peripherals especially give reason to believe this will be a long-term result, given his whiff %, chase % and strikeout % are all in the percentiles of 70 and above. His extraordinary plate approach is a product of his seasoned game after 15 years in the league, and is a key part of the middle of this lineup.

Despite the fact that he's been exactly what the Blue Jays needed, there is more required that he simply can't do alone.

The aforementioned numbers depicting some of the offensive differences with and without Turner are also a sign that the rest of the team needs to be better. Sure, there are games like the home opener Monday night against the Seattle Mariners that show glimpses of a complete effort, but this needs to be a regular theme in some capacity like it was three years ago.

It doesn't even mean Toronto needs to win every game or be held to insane standards, but the nightly juxtaposition in performance must be eradicated. You can't hope for one guy to save your season when the complexion of the team is getting no-hit one night and having everyone get on base the next.

This will happen if Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can start commanding his at-bats with more conviction, and use his improved eye to pounce on mistakes on the inner half of the plate. It'll happen if the bottom of the lineup could produce competent at-bats more frequently, or if Chris Bassitt gets into his groove to complete the fierceness of the rotation.

It's also important to keep in mind the absences of Jordan Romano, Erik Swanson and Danny Jansen. The first two are the best relievers on the team, so it's obvious as to why Toronto needs them back sooner than later. As for Jansen, despite his notoriously bad luck with injuries, he's a heavy hitter who directly solves some of the Blue Jays' power-related issues.

So the verdict is that it's all relative to many things. Bringing in Turner alone could be enough if the best players on the team pick it up, and if there's enough competence beyond the top four in the lineup.

But that's why the 2024 Blue Jays are so polarizing, because perhaps it's not meant to be so simple. Maybe the rest of the team continues to struggle with consistency, and the fans will look back and wonder why so little was done in the off-season.

At this point it's up to the team to show that the front office wasn't asinine for banking on internal improvement, and there's still the trade deadline in the summer for the necessary transactions to be made once the current roster's potential begins to become more clear.

One thing is true, though, and it's that Toronto doesn't stand a chance without Turner.