U.S. tops World 6-4 in All-Star Futures Game

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The U.S. squad received scoreless performances from nine of its 10 pitchers and got a homer from Indians prospect Jason Kipnis in winning the All-Star Futures Game 6-4 on Sunday.

Kipnis homered to start the bottom of the first of Braves phenom Julio Teheran, and the U.S. went on to build a 3-0 lead through five before the World Team touched Cleveland’s Drew Pomeranz for four runs in the sixth.

Keying the World rally were a two-run homer from Dodgers prospect Alfredo Silverio and an RBI triple from the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar.  Pomeranz was unable to finish the sixth, making way for the Twins’ Kyle Gibson after giving up three hits and a walk.

The U.S. came back to win by scoring three times in the eighth.  Grant Green, who took over for Kipnis at second base, drove in a run with his second double in two at-bats and was named the game’s MVP afterwards.

Phillies prospect Jarred Cosart picked up the win after striking out two in a perfect eighth.  The Mets’ Matt Harvey retired the only batter he faced in the ninth for the save.

Bryce Harper, the prospect most were there to see, played the whole game, only to end up 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

The Rays’ Matt Moore, who was picked over Teheran as the game’s top pitching prospect by Baseball America last week, put on the best show of all the premium arms.  He was consistently in the high-90s while throwing a perfect fourth.

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.