Albert Belle does not sound like he’s mellowed with age

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Albert Belle was probably the crankiest and sometimes meanest S.O.B. in the game back in his day. He’s not mellowed with age, as his interview with CSNChicago’s Chuck Garfien reveals. Highlights:

  • On his corked bat in 1994 – “I know Bobby Brown was [out to get me] because me and him had a few run-ins before as the American League president, so it was kind of his chance to get back at me, so he did.”
  • On steroids allegations – “What people don’t remember about Albert Belle is, Albert Bell was living in a glass house. I’m sure if Albert Belle was doing steroids, somebody would have reported me a long time ago.”
  • On losing the MVP to Mo Vaughn in 1995 – “If you ask every reporter who voted, they knew they should have been voting for me. It should have been the greatest landslide in MVP history. Just because some of them didn’t like me … they didn’t vote for me.”

 

 

He’s absolutely right on 1995. He’s full of crap on the corked bat. I don’t know what he did steroids-wise, but if your best defense is “well, someone would have said something already, yes?” you’re not exactly offering a full-throated denial.

Guy was a horse’s ass back in the day and he’s in at least some amount of denial now. Still a hell of a ballplayer, though, so I kinda don’t care as long as he’s not committing felonies.

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.