Bud Selig talks about Arizona . . . kinda

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Arizona outline.jpgToday Bud Selig spoke for the first time about his thoughts on the new Arizona immigration law and the calls for baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Chase Field. His response: Baseball hires a lot of minorities. Really, that was his answer:

Asked about such demands at a news conference Thursday following an
owners meeting, he responded with a defense of baseball’s minority
hiring record.

“Apparently all the people around and in minority
communities think we’re doing OK. That’s the issue, and that’s the
answer,” he said. “I told the clubs today: ‘Be proud of what we’ve
done.’ They are. We should. And that’s our answer. We control our own
fate, and we’ve done very well.”

Which is great and everything, but it does nothing to address the fact that the players’ union, several individual players and at least one manager — Ozzie Guillen — have said that they won’t participate in the All-Star Game if it takes place in Arizona.  You’d think that would be something he’d want to comment on, if for no other reason than to say such talk is premature. Instead we get this:

“We’re a social institution. We have done
everything we should do – should do, our responsibility,” he said.
“Privilege to do it. Don’t want any pats on the back, and we’ll continue
to do it.”

Again, he’s talking about baseball’s hiring record. Which has absolutely nothing to do with this unless you think that all issues that touch on race or ethnicity fall into the same bucket.  Great job with the hiring Bud, we’re all proud of you. But what do you think about your players and your union threatening a wildcat strike?

Like I said yesterday, I’m rather agnostic about the location of the All-Star Game in light of this controversy. I have my issues with the law, but I think that it’s a bit premature, and possibly counterproductive, for baseball to make any grand gesture like moving the game.

But I think that Bud should at least say that much. The response he gave — we’re very good to the brown people in general,
so we are immune from this controversy — is beside the point at best and condescending at worst, and will do nothing to address the concerns of baseball’s constituencies.

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.