Potent quotables: 'Great guts'

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“Before, we were a good club that was gutsy. Now, we are a really good club with great guts.”



– Tony LaRussa, after the Cardinals
clinched their first NL Central title since 2006
with a 6-3 victory
over the Rockies on Saturday night.




“I’m not in a pennant race, but at least I have some pride. When you
get [to the clubhouse] and turn on a stupid-ass football game when
those [expletive] football players don’t give a [expletive] about you,
that’s embarrassing. We’ve got seven games [left]. They are going to
pull their [expletive] together, period. I don’t mind losing a game,
but when you lose a game and you don’t care about it, we are going to
have a problem. To get your asses kicked like that and all of a sudden,
you’re watching football games? That’s a bunch of [expletive].”




– Ozzie Guillen, after watching his
team blow a 5-0 lead
in an eventual 12-5 loss to the Tigers on Saturday
night. The White Sox have dropped eight of their last 10 games.




“When was the last time a 40-year-old pinch-ran for a 39-year-old? That’s what I want to know.”



– Brad Ausmus, after he pinch-ran
for Jim Thome during Saturday’s 8-4 comeback win over the Pirates. With
the victory, the Dodgers secured a trip to the postseason, however,
their magic number to clinch the division is down to two.




“This is fun.
You don’t start making a big deal about it with a week [to go]. I’m not
trying to do that. We’ve got our own destiny in our own hands. That’s
just the way it is. You either do it or you don’t. And I feel very good
where we’re at, but you have to go out and win games.”




– Jim Leyland isn’t letting the
pressure of a pennant race get to him
. With Saturday’s win over the
White Sox, The Tigers remain two games in front of the second-place
Twins with eight games left to play. They host a critical four-game
series against Minnesota on Monday.

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.