Tick, tock: 13 first-round picks remain unsigned

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With the midnight deadline to sign draft picks looming the focus has obviously been on No. 1 overall pick and “greatest college pitcher since [fill in the blank]” Stephen Strasburg, but there also are a ton of other first rounders still unsigned. Here’s the complete list, as of noon today:

1.   Stephen Strasburg   RHP    Nationals
2.   Dustin Ackley       OF     Mariners
3.   Donavan Tate        OF     Padres
6.   Zach Wheeler        RHP    Giants
9.   Jacob Turner        RHP    Tigers
11.  Tyler Matzek        LHP    Rockies
12.  Aaron Crow          RHP    Royals
13.  Grant Green         SS     A's
14.  Matt Purke          LHP    Rangers
15.  Alex White          RHP    Indians
19.  Shelby Miller       RHP    Cardinals
22.  Kyle Gibson         RHP    Twins
30.  Levon Washington    OF     Rays

Everyone expected Strasburg and agent Scott Boras to drag things out until the last second, but with about 12 hours remaining until the deadline each of the top three picks and 13 of the first 30 picks are still unsigned. There are also plenty of prominent non-first rounders still negotiating, including Tanner Scheppers, who dropped to the Rangers at No. 44 after not signing last year.
There are last-minute signings every year, but it seems like there’s more uncertainty than ever on this deadline day, perhaps because teams are able to take a hard-line (or harder-line, at least) stance while knowing that not signing a first rounder will result in receiving a compensatory pick one slot down next June. In other words, the worst-case scenario no longer involves being left empty handed.
For the latest updates on all the signings, check out Rotoworld’s player news page and Baseball America‘s draft blog.

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.