NL Gold Glove voters fail to embarrass selves

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Time to pat yourselves on the back, NL managers and coaches: you weren’t nearly as dim as your AL counterparts in your Gold Glove selections:
C Yadier Molina
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Orlando Hudson
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Jimmy Rollins
OF Michael Bourn
OF Matt Kemp
OF Shane Victorino
P Adam Wainwright
I think pretty much everyone will agree that those nine players are all above average fielders. The most encouraging development was that the voters finally rewarded Zimmerman at third base after choosing the mediocre David Wright the previous couple of years. Wright’s chances of a third straight Gold Glove were damaged by his injury, but I thought Kevin Kouzmanoff might get it, especially with the Padres doing everything they could to boost his candidacy. Fortunately, Zimmerman, the far rangier player, got it despite committing 17 errors to Kouz’s three.
Catcher was a no-brainer. My pick at first base would have been Derrek Lee. Albert Pujols was just too sloppy this year, and Lee gets to more balls than Gonzalez. Gonzalez, though, is rock solid. Chase Utley and Clint Barmes were both better than the declining Hudson at second base. The NL’s best shortstop, Jack Wilson, was traded out of the league, though Rollins surely would have topped him anyway. My choice would have been Troy Tulowitzki.
I’d have voted for Bourn, Nyjer Morgan and Mike Cameron in the outfield. Kemp is much, much improved, but he’s still a notch below the elite guys. Victorino is simply overrated. With Morgan, Andrew McCutchen and Colby Rasmus likely to spend full seasons in center next year, Victorino shouldn’t be looking at a long run as a Gold Glover.

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.