Buster Olney tells Mets fans not to worry about the Phillies

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From this morning’s Buster Olney column:

I’ve been trying to convince some friends who are Mets fans that the Cliff Lee signing is good for New York, in the big picture. Here’s the logic: The Mets are probably not going to be very good in 2011, and maybe even 2012. So, by 2013, when the Mets theoretically have rebuilt themselves into a contender, Lee will be 35 years old and the Phillies could have a roster top-heavy with older and more expensive players.

Actually, most Mets fans I talk to think along those lines. They’re a pretty clear-eyed bunch for the most part. Not that “don’t worry, you’re going to suck for two years” makes anyone feel great about their team, but I don’t think anyone really refutes it.

From a competitive standpoint, the Cliff Lee signing is the worst for the Braves, who are contenders now, and for the NL playoff teams from the Central and West who will have to get past the Phillies in the playoffs.  It’s a drag for Mets fans, sure, but I don’t think it really changes the competitive equation for them all that much.

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.