McCarver apologizes for the Nazi/Commie reference, is still wrong about the Yankees

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Good for Tim McCarver for realizing that his comparison of the Yankees to Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union was a bit much:

McCarver, a close friend of Torre’s, said Monday in an interview from
Florida that his analogies between the Yankees and the Third Reich and
Stalin’s Soviet Union were “inappropriate.”

Bad for McCarver for still beating the Yankees-need-to-do-more-to-honor-Joe-Torre drum:

But he added, “In my opinion, the underlying point here remains true:
Yankees management has erased Joe Torre from their history.” He said, “I
don’t think the Yankees have embraced the image of Joe Torre.”

I think the funniest thing about all of this is that McCarver’s particular choice of words here — “embrace the image” — puts more fascist/Stalinist imagery in my head than airbrushing people out of pictures does. I get this feeling that McCarver won’t be happy unless there are large, teeming crowds holding up giant images of Torre’s head with the words “Our Dear Leader” under it while Torre waves from a balcony in a military uniform, basking in the cult of personality that the Yankees have created for him.

OK, really all McCarver wants the Yankees to do is to retire Torre’s number: “Retiring his number would mean embracing his legacy,” he said.  I don’t suppose this is insane — the Yankees retired Yogi Berra’s number when he was managing the Mets — but it’s not like Berra (a) wrote a tell-all book before then; or (b) only had his legacy as a manager to justify his number being retired. Billy Martin’s number was retired before he was done managing too, but he wasn’t managing anyone else at the time.

Maybe Casey Stengel is the most appropriate example. His number was retired in 1970, after he was done managing but before he kicked the bucket. If that treatment was good enough for him, it’s probably good enough for Torre, no?

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.