Rockies quickly reward Manager of the Year with 3-year contract extension

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Just minutes after Jim Tracy was named Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America, the Rockies announced that they’ve agreed to terms with the award-winning skipper on a new three-year contract extension.
Tracy is now under contract through 2012 and his entire coaching staff will return for next season after the team went from last place in May to the Wild Card winners following a 74-42 run with him at the helm.
Colorado is Tracy’s third managerial job. He took over for Davey Johnson as Dodgers manager in 2001 and went 427-383 (.527) with one playoff appearance in five seasons before being replaced by Grady Little, and then went 135-189 (.417) during two years in Pittsburgh. Of course, being fired twice before is hardly noteworthy for a big-league manager.
Five of the previous dozen Manager of the Year winners were fired within two years of receiving the award and the man who Tracy replaced this season, Clint Hurdle, was let go less than two seasons after taking the Rockies to the World Series in 2007. Hurdle finished third in the Manager of the Year balloting that year, with Bob Melvin of the Diamondbacks winning the award. Melvin was fired 191 games later.

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.