Nyjer Morgan is punching his ticket out of Washington

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Shocking, I know. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com alluded to the inevitable earlier this week, when two scouts told him that the chances the Nationals will keep Morgan are “nonexistent.”

Let’s just say that Morgan isn’t doing anything to change their minds. Take last night’s game against the Marlins, for instance. Batting eighth, Morgan reached on a two-out single in the bottom of the second inning. For some reason, he thought it was be a wise idea to attempt to steal with the pitcher batting. He was snuffed out at second base, leaving John Lannan to lead off the third.

Recent history between the two clubs aside, this is just bad baseball. Even a little leaguer knows not to run there. Perhaps more shocking than the act of attempting to steal the base, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman failed to call him out on it, according to Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider.

“That’s his game. I can’t ask him to hit eighth
but don’t run. I really thought he would get that base. The pitcher
wasn’t real quick to the plate. But the catcher made a great throw, and
he got him. That’s Nyjer’s game. I can’t take that away from him.”

Hey, Jim, there is this thing called a “stop sign.” When somebody only has a 66 percent success rate in stealing bases, you should probably look into it, regardless of where they hit in the lineup. Just another example of confusing aggressiveness with stupidity.

Fortunately, MLB is about to levy a lengthy suspension on Morgan, so the Nats won’t have to deal with his distractions and poor fundamentals much longer. 

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.