Hal Steinbrenner says Alex Rodriguez is getting too much of the blame

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Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner had a telephone interview with the Associated Press earlier today and you’ll be shocked to learn that he was asked about Alex Rodriguez.

While Steinbrenner wouldn’t discuss any speculation about whether Rodriguez will be back in New York next season, he did say that the the 37-year-old is getting too much of the blame for the team’s ALCS loss to the Tigers.

“He was just one of quite a few that just had a bad time at the plate,” the team’s co-chairperson said Friday during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “So is it fair to accuse him of everything but the Kennedy assassination? No, it’s not fair, but we’ll see what happens from this point on.”

Rodriguez’s situation has naturally received a lot of attention over the past week, so he has been cast as the scapegoat in some circles, but he’s pretty far down the list among those responsible for the Yankees’ ALCS loss. One could argue that he’s even less to blame than his replacement Eric Chavez, who was 0-for-8 with four strikeouts during the series and made defensive miscues in both Games 3 and 4. But what fun is that?

As for A-Rod’s future in pinstripes, he said after last night’s game that he has no plans to waive no-trade clause. Meanwhile, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com earlier today that he has no intention to shop Rodriguez this offseason. Unfortunately, I’m guessing we haven’t heard the last of this story.

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.