An angry Pujols is a dangerous Pujols

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pujols_venable_090823.jpgSt. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols was cranky on Sunday, helping cause a benches-clearing incident when he got into a verbal sparring session with San Diego’s Will Venable.

In the play in question, Venable hit a bouncer up the first base line. Pujols fielded the ball and tagged Venable, then all of holy heck broke loose.

“Last night he tried to run me over like he’s playing freakin’ football. A play like that you don’t try to run people over,” Pujols said. “Next time, if I would have known, I probably hit him in the face with the glove and tag him out there. He threw an elbow. He was out by a lot. It wasn’t necessary, even to avoid a tag. Last night he jammed my wrist a little bit, and then tonight he tried to throw an elbow. That’s pretty stupid.”

Sounds like Venables was auditioning for a role with the Charlestown Chiefs doesn’t it? Yeah, not so much.

Go ahead and watch the video of the play here.

Underwhelmed? So was Venable. It “was a whole lot of nothing,” he said.

He then went on to say: “Skip told me to start a fight with Albert. He was hoping we’d both get tossed, since it would take 10 of me to put together one of Albert’s seasons.”

OK I made that up. But I could see it happening, especially when you consider Pujol’s worth to the Cardinals. (check out the handy chart, courtesy of Umpbump)

So be cool Albert. Don’t worry about the Will Venables of the world. But if you just can’t take it anymore, talk to the Hanson brothers. They’ll take care of it for you.

******

If you Twitter, and you enjoy hockey brawls, feel free to follow me at @Bharks.

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.