The Tigers give Brandon Inge his unconditional release

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Wow, this is pretty big. From the Twitter feed of the Tigers’ media relations dude:

This isn’t big because Brandon Inge is big — he’s pretty insignificant, baseball-wise these days —  but because he’s probably the single most polarizing player in the world of Detroit Tigers fandom. He’s one of those rare guys who is still beloved by many despite possessing little if any of the value he used to possess as a player.  Which, in turn, makes more analytical fans go nuts.  Wanna start an argument among Tigers fans? Just voice a strong opinion about Brandon Inge. He’s a player cum mascot about whom no one can be rational.  If you don’t believe me, go check out this thread over at Bless You Boys soon.  It’s bound to be nutsy within an hour or two.

But now he’s gone. As well he should be. He’s 2 for 20 on the year with no walks. He hasn’t had a useful season in a couple of years. He hasn’t had a good one in, like, seven.  With Miquel Cabrera at third he has no defensive value on this team. He has been playing some sub-par second base because, well, because he has to be somewhere. Or had to, anyway.

You may remember Eldred from some brief time with the Pirates and Rockies a few years ago.  At the moment he’s absolutely raking at Toledo:  he’s 31 for 80 with 13 — 13! — homers in 20 games so far this year. Of course he’s also 31 years-old, has been at triple-A for seven years and plays first base, so it’s not like he’s going to change the season.

But he can hit. Inge can’t, and that’s why he’s now gone.

(Thanks to Michael M. for the heads up)

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.