Some Mets visited Walter Reed Hospital; some didn’t; world did not end

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Remember the ridiculous controversy — or was it a nontroversey? — last September when Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez failed to make the voluntary team visit to Walter Reed Hospital while in Washington to play the Nats?  How Jeff Wilpon and then the New York media went absolutely bonkers over this, calling out those three for not doing something that reflected that there are things in the world that are bigger than baseball? Even though they never, ever would have been called out for it had it not been for their subpar performance as baseball players?

Yeah, that was totally not fun.  But at least it served one purpose: it put everyone else on notice that, boy howdy, they have better have their stories straight for the next visit to Walter Reed. Which occurred today:

The Mets visited Walter Reed Medical Center on Tuesday and unlike last year, the only two players who didn’t attend — Francisco Rodriguez and Taylor Buchholz — notified the team in advance that they wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday and had permission to miss it.

It’s neat that one needs “permission” to miss a voluntary outing like this, but such is the world the Mets live in now. A world in which fear of a public shaming by team ownership and the press instills patriotism and fosters a strong belief in public service. And what better motivation is there than that!

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.