MIAMI -- Through one half and change of the 2017 season, the Dodgers hold the National League's best record -- and it's not particularly close. So it seems apt that they would also have the most All-Stars in the Senior Circuit, a half-dozen in total, ringing Marlins Park's warning track
MIAMI -- Through one half and change of the 2017 season, the Dodgers hold the National League's best record -- and it's not particularly close. So it seems apt that they would also have the most All-Stars in the Senior Circuit, a half-dozen in total, ringing Marlins Park's warning track Monday as they discussed the journeys that brought them to the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.
There is Cody Bellinger, the 21-year-old T-Mobile Home Run Derby contestant, and Corey Seager, the 23-year-old wunderkind somehow swallowed by his younger teammate's shadow. There is Clayton Kershaw, always in the conversation for Planet Earth's best starting pitcher, and Kenley Jansen, perhaps its best reliever. There is Alex Wood, the undefeated veteran who has defied skeptics throughout his career, and Justin Turner, the one-time backup who redefined his life and times in Los Angeles.
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"You've got guys that have played for 10, 15 years -- five-, six-, seven-, eight-time All-Stars in our clubhouse," Seager said. "It's incredible walking in and seeing the names, seeing the faces."
Kershaw has been here six times already, spending much of Monday's All-Star Media Day in an elder statesman role. He opined on other pitchers and the state of the game. He reflected back on past All-Star experiences.
Seager and Bellinger? This is likely to become a similar annual tradition for them. Jansen has already been here once, and at age 26, Wood is a decent bet to make it back.
But Turner, now 32, knows his chances at this sort of thing are limited. When he did not initially make the team as a reserve, Turner was naturally disappointed. When he learned he was a candidate on the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote ballot, he was elated -- and went to work. Turner campaigned on social media as relentlessly as any player in recent memory. He reached out to fans directly. He bared himself, relaying how much three days in Miami would mean to him.
"I look over to my left and you've got a 23-year-old and a 21-year-old," Turner said. "They have hopefully 10, 15 years of chances to make All-Star Games in front of them. I'm 32. Even though I'd like to hit close to .380 every year in the first half, I can't promise that's going to happen. I knew that this Final Vote was going to be a big opportunity for me to get here, knowing that I might not have another chance to do it."
Statistically speaking, this was Turner's best chance yet; his .377 average will lead the Majors as soon as he amasses enough plate appearances to qualify, which should happen before the end of this month. Coming off a season in which he finished ninth in NL MVP voting, Turner is reaching base at a 47-percent clip. He is now four years removed from the Mets' non-tender of him. Four years into his rebirth as one of the NL's best players.
"I would like to sit here and say no, it doesn't surprise me," Turner said. "But I've gone from being a utility guy in New York and getting non-tendered by them, and let go, not knowing what was going to happen. To say that I knew one day I was going to be an All-Star, it would probably be a lie. It's a pretty special feeling to be sitting here today."
Here Turner sits next to Kershaw, who leads the league with 14 victories, and Wood, who is 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He sits next to Bellinger, who hit 25 first-half home runs; Seager, who owns an .897 OPS in what critics have dubbed a down year; and Jansen, who went nearly three full months without issuing a walk.
Turner may have walked a more winding road than his five All-Star teammates, but he is hardly lost amongst them. Together, those six hold the short-term future of the Dodgers in their hands. When asked if this is the best team he's played on, Kershaw quipped: "I'll let you know in a few months."
And that's what matters, isn't it? The NL's best team wants more than to amass a pretty All-Star collection. The Dodgers want to be best in October, too.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.