Judge Dodgers on seven straight titles, not the World Series crown they’re still chasing

It seemed like the oddest of places to celebrate a seventh consecutive National League West division title: At Camden Yards, against a bad Orioles team, the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrating with a group photo in blue “October Reign” T-shirts with the B&O Warehouse in the background. Justin Turner sat on the ground in the middle of the congregation, holding up seven fingers. He’s been with the Dodgers for six of the titles — Clayton Kershaw , Kenley Jansen and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the three holdovers from the 2013 team that initiated this run — and in many ways he’s the perfect symbol of how the Dodgers have built this dynasty. The Mets had non-tendered Turner after the 2013 season and he signed 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, 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 hit .340 that first season with the Dodgers. He became a star, with top-10 MVP finishes in 2016 and 2017 and he would eventually earn a much larger payout with a four-year, $64 million contract. Turner was actually a Ned Colletti signing, as Andrew Friedman took over as head of baseball operations after 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 fireball-throwing reliever. Turner, however, exemplifies how a roster of stars has been developed in a variety of means. Yes, money helps and the Dodgers have spent a lot of it, but consider the following: • Max Muncy , like Turner, was free talent, cut loose by the A’s, and has blasted 68 home runs the past two seasons. He’s ninth in the majors in wOBA over the past two seasons. • MVP candidate Cody Bellinger was a fourth-round pick in 2013 (oh, that was Colletti and White as well). • Walker Buehler , who tossed seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts in Tuesday’s win, was a first-round pick, but just the 24th overall selection in the 2015 draft, a stroke of genius as the Dodgers took a chance after he came up with a sore arm at Vanderbilt. • Chris Taylor was acquired from the Mariners in a trade for pitcher Zach Lee, who never even pitched for Seattle. • Kenta Maeda came over from Japan and has been a vital member of the rotation the past four seasons. AP Photo/Nick Wass Above all, the key under Friedman has been player development at the minor league level. The 2016 draft has a chance to […]

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