Should we raise the pitcher's mound?

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The All-Star break is a good time to talk about stuff we normally don’t
have time to discuss because things like ballgames and transactions and
stuff get in the way. Things like this, which is an article advocating for a return to the pre-1968 pitchers’ mound:

If Major League Baseball is serious about trying to find ways to
escape the fallout of the steroid era, raising the pitching mound would
seem to be a no-brainer . . . It’s time to take another look. It’s time
to realize Gibson’s 1.12 was an exceptional year by an exceptional
pitcher. Those tiny ERAs? Evidence suggests they were more a mirage
than a trend — and hitters have been having far too much fun. It’s
time to give the pitchers a break. It’s time to restore at least part
of the real estate missing from the middle of baseball diamonds
everywhere. It’s time to Bring Back The Hill. Now.

I don’t believe that outrageous offense is as big a problem now as it
was a few years ago, but it strikes me that this could be a good idea
regardless of its direct effects on offense. I could totally see a
higher mound leading to fewer pitchers’ injuries as hurlers will be
able to generate a bit more velocity via gravity as opposed to muscle,
and could theoretically lower their arm slots a bit — thus reducing
shoulder strain — and still get a good angle of attack at a batter.

Just spitballin’ here.

Hey, that gives me another idea . . .

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.