Morgan making amends, invites Phillies fan to game

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Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan is currently serving an eight-game suspension for a string of violent and unsportsmanlike acts that culminated with a benches-clearing brawl on September 1 at the Marlins’ Sun Life Stadium.  Those incidents tarnished his image somewhat in the public eye, and he’s hoping to make things right.

Morgan was excused from a seven-game punishment for accidentally throwing a ball at a fan at Philadelphia’s Citizen Bank Park in mid-August, but he contacted that fan this week anyway and invited him to Sunday’s Nationals vs. Phillies game. 

According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Morgan gave the fan a free ticket behind the Nats’ dugout in Philly and a pregame field pass.

He declined to talk to the media about the generous gesture, a hint that it probably was sincere.

Morgan, 30, is batting .258/.318/.318 this season with 23 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 128 games this season.  He has been watching games from the Nationals’ general manager box with Mike Rizzo and  is eligible to return to the club’s starting lineup on September 25.

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.