Orioles’ Manny Machado homers his way to history in first four games

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Based on his modest numbers in the minors it seemed like a questionable decision for the Orioles to promote Manny Machado from Double-A to the majors just a month after his 20th birthday, but there’s nothing questionable about his first taste of the big leagues.

Machado went 2-for-4 with a triple in his MLB debut, homered twice in his second game, went 1-for-4 with a double in his third game, and homered again in his fourth game yesterday. Finally tally through four career games: 6-for-16 (.375) with three homers, five total extra-base hits, seven RBIs, five runs, and a 1.500 OPS.

Not bad for a guy who hit .266 with 11 homers and a .789 OPS in 109 games at Double-A.

Via the Baseball-Reference.com search tools: Machado is just the 12th player in MLB history with three or more homers in his first four career games, but amazingly four of those 12 have come this season with Will Middlebrooks, Yoenis Cespedes, and Yasmani Grandal joining Machado.

The all-time record for homers in a player’s first four games is four and it’s held by … Mike Jacobs. Of course.

UPDATE: In his first week as a big leaguer Machado was named the American League’s co-player of the week with Adrian Gonzalez.

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.