Joey Gathright gets 50-game ban for amphetamines

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It’s bad enough that MLB’s home run records have been tainted by performance-enhancing drugs. Now we have no choice but to wonder exactly what Joey Gathright was on when he was jumping over cars way back when.

MLB announced today that Gathright was suspended for 50 games for amphetamine usage. Yeah, the guy who stole as many as 69 bases in a minor league season was busted for speed.

The 31-year-old Gathright was last seen playing for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish. He also played in 40 games for the Reds’ Triple-A Louisville affiliate earlier this year, hitting .299/.346/.347 in 147 at-bats. His suspension will take effect if he ever signs with an affiliated club in the future.

Gathright was viewed as a very good prospect back in the day. He had no power at all, but he hit .334 and .331 in his first full minor league seasons and then came in at .305/.388/.407 in his first stint in Triple-A as a 24-year-old in 2005. It never translated to the majors, though. In 1,175 major league at-bats, he hit .263/.328/.303 with one homer and 81 steals.

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.