The Yankees designate Cody Ransom for assignment

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In the first couple of weeks of the season there were a few rogue writers out there who suggested — based on the steroids stuff and the Selena Roberts book more than anything else — that the Yankees were better off without Alex Rodriguez, and that a scrappy and clean young man like Cody Ransom would do just fine, thank you. I’m guessing no one will own up to that commentary now:

Given the versatility of the newly acquired Jerry Hairston Jr., it seemed unlikely that the Yankees would have room for backup infielder Cody Ransom much longer. And so the team did the inevitable on Wednesday, designating Ransom for assignment and replacing him with a fresh arm for the bullpen, right-hander Anthony Claggett . . . Designating Ransom may have been an obvious decision, but it was not an easy one for the Yankees. Though he struggled at times, Ransom nonetheless bailed the Yankees out of a tough spot when starting third baseman Alex Rodriguez had surgery on his right hip this spring, allowing Ransom to take over the starting job and hold it as best he could.

“As best he could” amounted to hitting .190/.256/.329, which wouldn’t cut it for a utility infielder in the mid-60s. So, while he didn’t tip off the signs to the other team, do steroids, make hundreds of millions of dollars, kill sportswriters’ puppies, break up marriages, and otherwise serve as history’s greatest monster, he was no real replacement, or even a real backup, for A-Rod.

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.