Rangers the front-runners for Jon Garland?

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Thumbnail image for jon garland dodgers.jpgIn his usual Sunday column of baseball notes for the Boston
Globe, Nick Cafardo writes that a market is beginning to develop for
free agent right-hander Jon Garland,
with the Rangers emerging as the early front-runner.



Garland, 30, was 11-13 with a 4.01
ERA and 1.40 WHIP last season, including a 2.72 ERA in six starts with
the Dodgers down the stretch. Though his career ERA sits at 4.42,
Garland is one of the most reliable secondary starters around, logging
at least 32 starts and 191 2/3 innings in each of the past eight
seasons.




Staying in the National League would
be beneficial for his career, but with the Nationals most likely
out of the running after the Jason Marquis signing, he might not have
much of a choice. Like Marquis, at least Garland has the reputation as a
groundball pitcher, so he’d be a better addition than say, Jarrod
Washburn, for the homer-happy Ballpark at Arlington. Appropriately
enough, Jason Marquis’ two-year, $15 million deal with Washington is a
pretty good benchmark for what Garland figures to find in free agency.
Garland earned $7.25 million last season.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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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.