Another call for teams to vacate wins when a player gets a PED suspension

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We dealt with this last month, but Jeff Miller of the OC Register goes there anyway. After lamenting that the Angels and Dodgers were victimized by the A’s and Giants due to the latters’ employment of Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera, Miller thinks that something more needs to be done:

The NCAA certainly wouldn’t permit this sort of thing. Officials already would have limited contact with free agents, stripped TV money and given the A’s and Giants the sort of probation usually reserved for the truly offensive, like Lindsay Lohan. Seriously, shouldn’t the A’s and Giants, for at least the rest of the regular season, be forced to wear ankle weights or something? Shouldn’t they be handicapped in some way?

They directly benefitted from performance-enhancing drugs, reached their lofty perches in part through fraud, and the only price they’ve paid is the loss of the offending player? Hardly seems right.

So Miller goes to FanGraphs, reads Melky and Colon’s WAR for the year and suggests that MLB dock the Giants and A’s 4.5 and 2.3 wins a piece. Because (a) the NCAA is obviously a great example to follow when it comes to sensible justice; and (b) it’s totally workable to simply deduct wins from a major league baseball team’s totals.

But that’s not my favorite point he makes. No, my favorite point is the one in which, after suggesting extreme measures be taken to level and uneven playing field, he says this:

Doesn’t seem fair, does it? The A’s and Giants received a boost in the standings. The Angels and Dodgers continue to receive a kick in the teeth.

I’m not for salary caps or the selective legalization of PED use, but two Southern California teams that can and do so thoroughly outspend their rivals in the Bay Area are probably not the first ones anyone wants to hear complain about things not being fair.

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.