Florida legislature to spend $3.3 million a year to try to keep spring training in Florida

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In Florida, the spring training parks are spread out from one another, making travel a drag. The Florida legislature passed a budget yesterday which provides $3.3 million a year for spring training complex upgrades and construction. Including:

This incentive is aimed at helping pay for a proposed stadium that would be used by the Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays in Palm Beach Gardens. The Astros currently train in Kissimmee while the Blue Jays train in Dunedin.

Houston is interesting. Moving from the NL Central to the AL West means that all of their division rivals train in Arizona now. You have to wonder if they wouldn’t want to eventually move to the Cactus League in order to take advantage of all the people who travel to see Texas, Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle.

The Jays have been in Dunedin since the beginning and Canada-to-Florida tourism is a pretty major thing. One wonders if they’d actually try to leave the state, incentives or no incentives. Right now Cleveland and Cincinnati are the farthest north/east teams which travel to Arizona each winter and they’ve historically been at the bottom of Cactus League attendance.

(thanks to Nathan R. for the heads up)

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.