Good news for the Mariners' lineup: pitchers get to bat soon

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Mariners logo.gifThe commencement of interleague play means that help is on the way to the Mariners’ anemic lineup:

As a senior at Long Beach State, [Jason] Vargas served as the Dirtbags’ usual
designated hitter, finishing with a .354 batting average, 14 doubles
and five homers. Furthermore, the former Marlins and Mets pitcher didn’t
embarrass himself when he was required to bat for himself during his
three years in the National League.

During his big-league career,
Vargas – 14-for-48, with three doubles and two walks – is a .292 hitter
with a .320 on-base percentage and a .354 slugging percentage. Those
numbers are a significant improvement over, say, the .221/.248/.279 Jose
Lopez took into the Mariners’ game Tuesday at Oakland.

The notion that Mariners’ pitchers will represent an improvement in the lineup would be hilarious if it weren’t true.

Oh, and this report comes from John McGrath of the Tacoma News-Tribune, which is the same paper who kicked off the Sleeping Griffey fiasco.  I have no reason to believe that they were out to get Griffey with that stuff, but you get the sense that they’re having quite a bit of fun twisting the knife with this latest bit.

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.