Russ Springer calls it a career at age 42

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From Bob Tompkins of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk (via MLB Trade Rumors) comes word that veteran reliever Russ Springer has decided to hang up his cleats for good.

The 42-year-old native of Alexandria, Louisiana broke into the majors back in 1992 as a reliever for the Yankees.  He played for 10 different teams throughout his 18-season MLB career and will finish with a 4.52 career ERA and 1.37 WHIP.

Springer was at his best while with the Cardinals, posting a 2.18 ERA over 76 relief appearances in 2007 and a 2.32 across 70 relief appearances in 2008.  He made only two appearances last season for the Reds before season-ending hip surgery forced him to the 60-day disabled list in August.

“For the first time in my career, it feels right,” Spring told the Daily Town Talk.  “This year, I’ve had no pull towards going to the gym. I’m totally content to be with the family. There comes a time when you can ask only so much of your body physically, and you’ve got to stop beating it up.”

It sure sounds like he is at peace with the decision.  Which is good, because the free agent market for him was not pretty and he would have probably had to settle for a minor league contract and spring training invite.

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.