Nava and Andrews, sittin' in a tree … ?

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daniel nava running.jpgLast night D.J. Short introduced us to sudden Red Sox cult hero Daniel Nava, who launched a grand slam Saturday afternoon on the first pitch of his first ever major league at-bat.  The story gets better.  Well, sorta.

Nava has had a crush on ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews for years, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, and has comically been leaving a ticket for her at will call for the last three seasons down in Triple-A Pawtucket.  It seems she knows at least a little about the guy, because she tweeted this to Boston-based WEEI.com on Saturday  night, just a few hours after he hit the homer:

Pass along my best to Daniel!! Congrats on a big day that will go down in Sox history! Hope to meet him soon!”

I suppose this plot was a little predictable.  After all, the superhero always gets the girl.  Nava was called up before Saturday’s game to provide depth in a Boston outfield that has been riddled with injuries.  He’s now 2-for-4 with four RBI as a major leaguer with a 1.500 career slugging percentage and an OPS of 2000.

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.