Needing 40-man roster spot, Royals cut loose Brian Bannister

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Jason Kendall and David DeJesus returning from the 60-day disabled list meant the Royals needed to clear a couple spots on the 40-man roster and they did so by cutting loose Brian Bannister and Brian Anderson.

Bannister is one of my favorite players because he’s a good quote, very smart, and a fan of sabermetrics, often talking about how he studies stats in an effort to improve his pitching. It didn’t help him much this season, as he went 7-12 with a 6.32 ERA in 24 starts after coming into the year with a 4.79 ERA in 540 career innings.

He’s a decent bounceback bet, but Bannister’s upside is back-of-the-rotation starter and at age 30 he may have to settle for a minor-league contract with an opportunity to compete for a job this spring.

Anderson is a former first-round pick who converted to pitching this season after struggling to hit enough to play the outfield. He had some early success in the minors, tossing 17 innings with a 2.08 ERA and 17/5 K/BB ratio, but there was no need to protect him with a 40-man roster spot.

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.