Phillies and Kevin Frandsen avoid arbitration by agreeing to new contract

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UPDATE: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Frandsen will make a base salary of $850,000. The deal includes incentives which could bring the overall payout to $1.2 million.

11:35 PM: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Phillies and Kevin Frandsen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a new contract. Terms aren’t yet available, but it doesn’t figure to be much since he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

Frandsen spent the entire first half of this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but received significant playing time at third base with the big club after the All-Star break, batting .338/.383/.451 with two home runs, 14 RBI and an .834 OPS in 210 plate appearances. His strong play pushed Placido Polanco to the bench down the stretch.

It’s possible the Phillies will go into next season with a platoon of Frandsen and Freddy Galvis at third base, but general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will certainly look for ways to improve in both the free agent and trade markets. While Frandsen was a nice surprise in a small sample this year thanks to a high line drive rate and batting average on balls in play, the 30-year-old had a .243/.302/.335 batting line and a .636 OPS over his previous 626 plate appearances in the majors. With regression likely on the way, it would be unwise to count on him as anything more than a utility infielder next year.

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.