Cameron on Griffey: "It's not the fact that he was asleep"

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Greiffey closeup.jpgDave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner knows the Seattle Mariners better than anyone, and last night he completely nailed the whole Griffey sleeping in the clubhouse thing.  It’s not the nap per se; it’s what it represents:

. . . the fact that two teammates would talk to a reporter about Junior being
asleep during a game is perhaps the more telling aspect of this story.
If Griffey really commanded the respect of the entire clubhouse, and
they loved having him around, no one talks about this to a member of the
media. But they did, and that they were willing to bring this up to
someone who they had to suspect would write about it suggests that
perhaps Griffey’s influence in the clubhouse either isn’t as great as
some would suggest, or perhaps more likely, that it only matters while a
player is producing.

The kicker: no one bothered to wake Griffey up.  Cameron: “My guess is that most of them probably didn’t want him hitting in that
situation anyway, so maybe deep down, they feel like he did them a
favor.”

My response to this story yesterday was that you need to cut Griffey or urge him to retire because you simply can’t be a Major League ballplayer and sleep on the job.  Based on the comments to that post it’s quite obvious that many disagree with that sentiment and think that Griffey has earned the benefit of the doubt. Fair enough.

But he’s not getting the benefit of the doubt from his teammates. They’re totally fine with him sleeping on the job because it keeps him out of the batter’s box. And that’s far more damning for Griffey than the mere fact that he was snoozing during a ballgame.

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.