Aroldis Chapman works out, throws "only" 96 mph

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Aroldis Chapman had his big workout this morning. Scouts from 15 teams showed up to watch him pitch two five-minute bullpen sessions. According to Jorge Arangure, he threw in the 92-93 mph range for the most part and and topped out at 96.

The Twittersphere is complaining about his velocity this afternoon, but it’s probably worth noting that (a) the much repeated “100 mph” stuff about Chapman is based on a single radar reading from the WBC and could have been a fluke; (b) Chapman is still a lanky 21, and could easily add some velocity once he is farther into a workout regime superior to that he saw in Cuba; and (c) even if he tops out at 96 mph for the rest of his career, that would make him the hardest throwing lefty starter in the majors.

No, the real question isn’t the gun, it’s the control. No word from Arangure about that, though it’s probably hard to really gauge control in a bullpen session.  He’s being referred to this afternoon as “a tremendous talent.” Someone in that same article compared him to Brien Taylor. I think it was meant as a compliment, but jeez, Brien Taylor?  FanHouse’s Ed Price heard from someone who was there who said “he’s got the package.” I’m not sure what that means and wonder if the person who said that really does either.  Everyone talked about his arm, but we all knew he had a good arm. The question is whether he can pitch.

The next question is if any of the teams in attendance — which included the Yankees, Orioles, Reds, Nats, Royals, Phillies, Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Red Sox, Astros, Angels, Marlins and Pirates — are going to top the Sox’ offer of $15.5 million.

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.