Turner, Taylor share NLCS MVP honors

Each player homers twice in series against Cubs

October 20th, 2017

CHICAGO -- and Chris Taylor wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

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The Dodgers won the National League pennant, in large part because of the incredible depth built into their roster. When it came time to award the MVP of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, it seemed fitting that one name wouldn't suffice.

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Instead, Turner and Taylor were selected as co-MVPs on Thursday night, after the Dodgers wrapped up their first trip to the Fall Classic since 1988 with a series-clinching 11-1 victory over the Cubs.

"Everybody could have predicted it was going to be co-MVPs," Taylor said. "If we could have given it to more than two guys, I'm sure we would have. All year long it's been a different guy every night, and a total team effort."

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In the NLCS, at least, Taylor and Turner stood out. Atop the Dodgers' lineup, the duo gave Cubs pitching fits. Turner batted .353 with two homers, six RBIs and five walks. His walk-off home run in Game 2 will serve as one of the postseason's lasting images.

Meanwhile, Taylor, the upstart leadoff hitter and utility-man extraordinaire, hit .316 with two homers and five runs scored over the five-game series. Taylor added three RBIs and four walks for a 1.247 OPS.

"It's incredible," Turner said. "What C.T. has done for our lineup all year long, settling into the leadoff spot, getting on base, the baserunner that he is, hitting balls over the fence -- he's a dynamic player and a tablesetter. When he goes, we usually go as a team. You guys saw that here in the postseason."

It's the second year in a row that teammates have shared the award, after and did for the Cubs in 2016. Before that, the NLCS hadn't named co-MVPs since Randy Myers and Rob Dibble for the Reds in 1990.

As for Taylor and Turner, it's no coincidence that their career paths have begun to resemble each other's. A year ago, Taylor was left off the Dodgers' postseason roster. He watched from his home in Virginia as they dropped the NLCS to the Cubs in six games.

Turner, meanwhile, had been through similar lows. He was non-tendered by the Mets after the 2013 season, before turning his career around entirely. Now, he's one of the sport's most feared hitters.

Last offseason, when Taylor decided to overhaul his swing, he looked to Turner for some advice.

"J.T.'s been huge for me all year and even last year," said Taylor. "I talked to him as much as I can, and he's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did.

"Guys that have gone out on a ledge and made big changes and had success with it, I saw those guys and the success they had. That's kind of what encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone and take a leap of faith."

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Taylor has been rewarded for it. And then some. He hit 21 homers during the regular season and postsed an .850 OPS. His two NLCS home runs were twice as many as he hit in his first three seasons in the Major Leagues combined.

"Pretty remarkable to think about where I was at this time last year," Taylor said. "... It's crazy how fast things can change."

Added Turner: "With the adjustments he's made, he's turned himself into a dangerous hitter. To have him at the top of our lineup is an extreme luxury."

It's a luxury that Turner himself has taken full advantage of. Perhaps the best example of the cohesiveness between the co-MVPs came in Game 2. With the score tied at 1 in the ninth, Taylor worked a fierce six-pitch walk against Cubs reliever , passing the baton to Turner. Two pitches later, Turner channeled his inner Kirk Gibson, launching the franchise's first postseason walk-off homer since Gibson's blast in the 1988 World Series.

Turner was a month shy of his fourth birthday then. Even as a young fan growing up in Long Beach, Calif., his memories of that playoff run are hazy. He recalls watching Gibson's iconic Game 1 homer from his grandmother's couch, but little else.

Turner has the hardware to remember this one. And he's more than happy to share it.