The Astros are on pace to finish 53-109

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It’s simply not fair that the Mariners are suddenly dominating the conversation on terrible teams.  Even after 15 straight losses, they have nothing on the Astros.  Houston is a full 10 games worse than Seattle this season, having gone 33-68 through 101 games.

That puts the Astros on pace to finish with a 53-109 record that would be the worst since the 2004 Diamondbacks went 51-111.

Here’s a list of all the teams since 1996 that failed to win at least 60 games:

2003 Tigers: 43-119
2004 Diamondbacks: 51-111
1996 Tigers: 53-109
1998 Marlins: 54-108
2002 Devil Rays: 55-106
2002 Tigers: 55-106
2002 Brewers: 56-106
2005 Royals: 56-106
2010: Pirates: 57-105
2004 Royals: 58-104
2009 Nationals: 59-103
2008 Nationals: 59-102

Astros fans can take hope that the three worst teams here improved by 29, 26 and 26 games the following year.  However, given the current state of the Astros farm system and the possibility that the team may subtract talent in trades, one can’t help but wonder if the 2011-12 Astros might join the 2008-09 Nationals as repeat offenders.

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.