Marlins play dead as Phillies complete three-game sweep

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Is anyone involved with the Marlins even trying anymore?

Ownership isn’t. The team played with just 12 position players today, even though the it’s September and rosters can be expanded to 40.

Ozzie Guillen isn’t. Perhaps in protest of the limited roster he’s getting to work with, he just went three straight games without pinch-hitting for a position player. He also did next to nothing to back up Justin Ruggiano after his left fielder was tossed following a particularly horrendous ball-strike sequence today.

The players may be, but beyond Ruggiano, it’s hard to tell.

The Marlins were tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh today when John Buck walked to start the top of the inning against Cliff Lee. Time to manufacture a run, right? Nope. Donnie Murphy flied out to right, bringing up the pitcher’s spot. Josh Johnson might have had one inning left in him at the time, but certainly no more than that. It would have made a lot of sense to go to the bench and try to score that run.

Well, at least, it would have made a lot of sense had the Marlins possessed a right-handed hitter to bring in. The only righty on the bench today was Austin Kearns, who entered the game when Ruggiano was ejected. Rather than go to a left-handed hitter, Guillen left Johnson in to bunt. Johnson popped it up for an out, and Lee then retired Gorkys Hernandez to end the inning. Johnson came back out for the bottom of the seventh, gave up a two-run homer to Jimmy Rollins and the Marlins lost 3-1.

That, by the way, made it a three-game sweep for the Phillies, who are now over .500 at 72-71.

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.