Royals fire Trey Hillman minutes after victory

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Just minutes after the Royals beat the Indians this afternoon for Zack Greinke’s first win of the season, the team fired manager Trey Hillman.
General manager Dayton Moore struggled to get the words out and appeared to have some tears upon making the announcement during a press conference that’s going on as I type this. Ned Yost will replace Hillman, who went 152-207 in three years on the job.
Obviously the writing has been on the wall for Hillman and it’s tough to argue that he deserved to keep the job, but Moore is actually responsible for building the roster full of veteran mediocrity.
UPDATE: To his credit, when asked if he “let Hillman down” Moore replied: “I look at myself, first and foremost. The failure of this baseball team is predicated on the decisions that I ultimately make in the short term and long term.”
UPDATE #2: Hillman is speaking to the media now. He answered several questions about today’s game first, which was weird, and said he was thankful to go out on a winning note for Greinke. Very poised and classy press conference for Hillman, in general.
UPDATE #3: Hillman revealed that he was told about the firing before the game. “Dayton is first class. He gave me the option this morning.”

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.