Jimmy Rollins answers Jonathan Papelbon, says Phillies lacked “identity” last season

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As Craig pointed out this morning, Jonathan Papelbon raised some eyebrows when he told the Allentown Morning Call this week that he hasn’t seen any “leadership” since he has been with the Phillies.

It was easy to see Papelbon’s comments as a potential criticism of a veteran like Jimmy Rollins, since he’s the longest-tenured member of the team. However, Rollins told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com today that he wasn’t offended by Papelbon’s comments and felt the club suffered from a lack of identity last year.

“Identity might be the word,” Rollins said. “We had a lot of moving parts last year. Parts coming in, a lot of new parts coming in. Regulars not being around, not being together, you know that bond that forms from being together.

“The bond was broken. We’re back together now. The glue is back together. You can have a lead singer, but without the man playing the guitar and drums it’s a different band.”

He’s presumably talking about fellow veterans Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who were out of action for most of the first half last season. Anyway, I’m interested to hear who is the drummer and who is the guitarist in this analogy. This is just begging for a proper Photoshopping.

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.