So where is Roy Oswalt going?

8 Comments

roy oswalt headshot astros.jpgI don’t know. But Bernardo Fallas and Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle handicap the field today.  Included in their analysis: the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees, Braves, Reds, Nationals, White Sox, and Phillies.

As the writers note, there are issues with all of those, including the willingness to spend money (Dodgers, Phillies), the fact that they aren’t a real contender and thus Oswalt may reject the notion (Mets, Reds, Nationals, Chisox) or the fact that they don’t really have room in the rotation. The writers include the Braves in that last group, though I don’t think it’s safe to say that Kenshin Kawakami is going to keep Roy Oswalt out of the Braves starting five if he were to come over. For Atlanta, the issue is more likely payroll.

Though it’s not at all clear to me that Oswalt — a county boy, we are constantly reminded — wants to play in Los Angeles, the Dodgers make the most sense to me from a baseball perspective. And heck, it’s not like Houston is a small town anyway.  They seem to have less of an excuse than any of the other contenders to not at least try for Oswalt given both their needs and their means, whether or not they’re willing to fulfill them and use them, respectively.

I think the most important thing in all of this is that it’s really, really early in this process.  Trades of this magnitude just don’t come together overnight. Most of the time they sort of linger until the deadline, which is still two months away.  In that time we’ll get a stronger sense of who’s a legitimate contender and who is not and the market will mature.

But really, the Dodgers should totally make a play for the guy.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

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.