Umpire Joe West calls the Red Sox and Yankees "pathetic" and "embarrassing"

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Joe West.jpgI said I’d stop complaining about Yankees-Red Sox game times, but that doesn’t mean I can’t quote other people who are doing it. Especially when they’re the ones in charge of moving the game along. Veteran crew chief Joe West, who had the plate for Sunday Night’s game:

“They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace. They’re two of the best
teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It’s pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play. The commissioner of baseball says he wants the pace picked up. We try. And [Tuesday night’s game] still almost went four hours . . . This is embarrassing, a disgrace to baseball.”

I think Joe West is one of the worst umpires in baseball, so the fact that I find myself agreeing with him on this is going to cause me to have to reevaluate my position somewhat. In the meantime, though, let’s go with it.

But as we go with it, let us also acknowledge — as Jason at IIATMS so deftly does this morning — that Joe West’s crew did a pretty poor job of calling the low strike yesterday, and Joe West personally squeezed the zone on Sunday night. And presumably does so all the time, actually, as does every other umpire who works Yankees-Red Sox games, at least to my untrained eye.

Yeah, the hitters on those teams are among the best at working the count, but they work the umpires a hell of a lot too, and get a lot of calls they shouldn’t get.  If the umps were calling the low strikes — and don’t even get me started on the almost completely absent high strike — these games wouldn’t drag on nearly as long as they do.

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.