News flash: Jeffrey Loria says something stupid

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Maybe it really is a news flash and not just an ironic one. Loria usually does stupid thins as opposed to saying them publicly. I’ll leave that analysis to someone who can stomach thinking about Jeff Loria for more than the time it takes me to do this post and then go cleanse my psyche with non-Loria thoughts.

Anyway, here’s Jeffy, unhappy with how the Marlins are doing:

“I’m not happy,’ he said in the clubhouse during the seventh inning of Florida’s 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Asked about his team’s play so far, Loria quickly vented his frustration.

“Uninspired baseball … Inconsistent and not acceptable. Very few guys have focused on what they’re here for. Very few … I know it’s only spring training, but it’s time to take a look in the mirror. We’re better than this. It’s time to show it. We need to be playing as a team and we need to hit.”

It’s spring freakin’ training. And while one can identify bad habits and bad signs in any given player over the course of the spring, I have yet to see any study whatsoever that shows a link between a team’s overall performance in spring training and how they do in the regular season.

And really, that’s what Loria’s on about here: the losses. Because nowhere in his quotes does he identify actual problems with the team other than the losses. He dismisses injuries — which is one of the few things that are relevant about spring training — and talks about “effort” and “inspiration” and other intangible hokum about which he knows very little. It’s the kind of thing you hear guys discussing in sports bars and on talk radio. Any serious baseball person knows that Loria is speaking in empty platitudes here. The Marlins haven’t won in spring training while he’s been down there. That’s all he knows. Boo-freakin’-hoo, Jeff, it’s irrelevant.

But there is something awesome about the story: the accompanying photo of Loria holding a stopwatch or a cell phone or something while “checking the pitch speed on Jhan Marinez.” As if he knows something about baseball other than how to make money in it and destroy franchises.  It’s like a fantasy camp for billionaire art collectors who fancy themselves scouts or GMs or something.  Cute!

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.