Questions swirl about the Rockies' humidor

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And by “questions swirl” I mean “lots of people are wanting to make an accusation about the Rockies messing with the humidor, but don’t have enough evidence to do so, so they phrase their accusations in the form of questions so as to make it seem like they’re not accusing anyone of anything”:

The humidor is used to make balls less hitter-friendly in the thin air of the Mile High City but what if some non-humidor balls were in the mix with the Rockies at bat?

In July, the voice of the Giants, Jon Miller, said in a KNBR
interview that he had heard from people in the game that something fishy
could be happening with the baseballs, which are to be humidified and
used by both teams.

“I wasn’t making accusations. I was saying there were people on the
Giants and apparently other teams talking about something could be going
on,” Miller said Monday . . . Two
Dodgers coaches questioned a reporter in San Francisco last week about
the validity of the humidor process, suggesting the Rockies could use
non-humidor balls if the process isn’t monitored properly.

It doesn’t sound like it would be that hard to mess with the balls if one were inclined to do so, given that there appears to be an unmonitored, multi-step chain of custody of the baseballs involving Rockies employees who aren’t exactly critical to the organization (i.e. umpires’ assistants, etc.) and who are thus easily ordered-around and ultimately expendable.  I can see, therefore, how it would be possible to screw with the humidor if the team were so inclined.

But the hallmark of all conspiracy theories is the operation of something that is possible, but for which there is no evidence of it actually occurring. Until someone squeals — and the same non-critical employees who could be asked to mess with baseballs are the same sorts who might find it in their best interests to squeal about such a thing — I’m going to chalk this up to superstition and frustration on the part of the Rockies’ opponents.

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.