Quick hits from Wednesday night

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I didn’t get a chance to post my usual “And That Happened” recaps this
morning, but here are some quick hits regarding last night’s games:

Andruw Jones went crazy against the Angels last night, hitting three homers.
Which is the same number of homers he hit all last year. And which, for
the season, puts him at .250/.348/.581. That sound you hear is me
banging my head against the wall in the realization that he, and not
Jeff Francoeur, could have very easily been manning right field in
Atlanta this year. Rangers are in first, now, kids. They’re for real,
and my pre-season prediction that had them winning the west still looks
prescient. Sure, it was a wild-ass guess, but that’s what we call
prescience before the fact.

Oliver Perez is back, and better than ever! Oh, wait, He walked seven guys. Dodgers: how do you lose a game to Oliver Perez when he walks seven guys?

Chris Volstad and Wandy Rodriguez
each pitched five-hit shutouts. It is such a bizarre coincidence that
anything so mind boggglingly improbable could have happened purely by
chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and
clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

Jose Contreras apparently spent his rehab time earlier this season working with Ponce de Leon.
And in this crazy, mixed-up world, isn’t it refreshing that you can
still count on some things in life? Thing like the Indians sucking?

Prince Fielder legged out an infield single
that drove in the go-ahead run and which caused the U.S. Geological
Survey and several local fire departments to go on high alert. See,
because he’s a big guy and there was a lot of thigh-friction and . . .
ah, well, never mind.

The Tigers finally figured out how to beat Zack Greinke. Leyland:
“When you are going against a guy like Greinke, you know that you are
going to have to get a great game from your starter. If you give up
three or four runs, he’s going to beat you, so I was very happy with
what French did tonight.” Thank goodness for the Tigers that Greinke
still pitches for the Royals, so three or four runs aren’t all that
distinct a possibility.

You always want to win games, but I bet the Reds are just as happy to finally see an effective Homer Bailey (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 6K 0 BB) as they would have been to see a victory.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.