Giants settle on Hector Sanchez as Game 3 designated hitter

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The Giants will go with their 22-year-old backup catcher as their designated hitter in Game 3 of the World Series in Detroit on Saturday. Hector Sanchez is getting the call for the third time in the postseason.

Aubrey Huff was the most likely alternative in the spot.

Both of Sanchez’s previous assignments this month came behind the plate, with Buster Posey shifting to first base. Sanchez often caught Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito in the regular season. However, Lincecum has started just the once in the postseason, and since Sanchez had such a rough game in his lone start against the Cardinals, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has decided to have Posey catch Zito in his last two starts.

Of course, since pretty much everything Bochy touches has turned to gold this month, Sanchez figures to be good for at least one homer tomorrow. The free-swinging switch-hitter batted .280/.295/.390 with three homers, 34 RBI and a 52/5 K/BB ratio in 218 at-bats during the regular season. He’s 1-for-7 with two walks and four strikeouts in the postseason.

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.