Andruw Jones says he can play for five more years

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Andruw Jones walkoff 2.jpgAndruw Jones celebrated his 33rd birthday in style on Friday night, slugging two solo home runs, including a walk-off shot in a 7-6 win over the Mariners.

Jones, who reportedly lost 15 to 20 pounds over the winter, is off to a fantastic start in Chicago, batting .293/.408/.756 with six home runs and nine RBI over his first 41 at-bats this season. He’s been a lone early bright spot for an offense that has combined to hit just .219/.302/.386 thus far.

Still on cloud nine following Friday’s win, the resurgent Jones told Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune the following:

“I’m way far from done. I think I can play five more years.”

It’s a nice comeback story and he certainly deserves regular at-bats in the short-term, but don’t look for this success to continue. Recognize that he’s hitting .412/.500/1.118 with four home runs against lefties, as compared to a meager .208/.345/.500 with two home runs and 10 strikeouts in 24 at-bats against right-handers, consistent with his declining profile since his 41-homer season in 2006. U.S. Cellular Field should prove to be a pretty nice launching pad for him, but chances are he’ll be more useful as a strict platoon player before it’s all said and done.
 

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.