The Orioles contact Buck Showalter about their managerial gig

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Buck Showalter was one of the first few names listed by fans and the media to take over the Orioles’ managerial job when it became apparent that Dave Trembley was going to get fired.  Now the Orioles are doing the logical thing and interviewing him, reports Tim Kurkjian of ESPN.

I assume this is a sign that Davey Johnson — who was interviewed last week — didn’t really impress anyone.  Unless of course Showalter is some token minority candidate (minority: guys who did not win a World Series while managing Derek Jeter).

I’m less taken with Showalter than a lot of people. I think his primary appeal is to those who think that he’ll do for Baltimore what he did for New York, which is to bring them to the brink of contention via his brains and obvious organizational skills, preparation, etc.  I continue to contend, however, that a lot of guys could have done what he did, mostly because the story of the Yankees’ turnaround in the early-to-mid 90s was primarily a front office story, not an on-the-field story. Nothing wrong with Showalter, mind you. He’s just not my cup of tea.

How about Wally Backman?  I plugged him on HBT Extra yesterday. Before that segment I read a lot about him and his history since being unceremoniously fired by the Diamondbacks five days after taking the job there. He sounds like a hell of a lot of fun in the Billy Martin-Ozzie Guillen mold.

There’s a lot of talent in Baltimore. It just needs a kick in the ass to get moving.  Wally Backman kicks some ass, so why not give him a whirl?

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.