The All-Star Game rosters have been unveiled

60 Comments

Via MLB’s official Twitter, here are the starting position players for the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field:

Nothing too shocking on the National League side of things. In a more Sabermetrically-inclined universe, Matt Carpenter could have gotten the nod over Brandon Phillips. If Troy Tulowitzki isn’t healthy enough to return, you’ll see either Jean Segura or Everth Cabrera at shortstop. “CarGo” refers to Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, not Carlos Gomez of the Brewers. Gomez probably should have gotten the nod over Bryce Harper given the playing time disparity. (By the way, Harper’s 201 PA total is closer to that of Yasiel Puig — 127 — than Gomez’s 325.)

In the American League, one could make a solid numbers-based case for Jason Kipnis over both Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia. Jhonny Peralta has been markedly better than J.J. Hardy but has half the home run total. Adam Jones could have been a reserve in favor of someone like Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury.

The pitchers:

Shocking not to see Stephen Strasburg, 4-6 but with a 2.24 ERA, not make it. Adam Wainwright won’t pitch in the All-Star Game, so it seems pretty open-and-shut that Matt Harvey gets the nod to start the game in his team’s stadium. With Jason Kipnis on the roster, the “one player from each team” rule was satisfied, making it odd that Justin Masterson earned a spot while Royals hurler Ervin Santana was left off. But other than that, there aren’t any huge omissions as far as AL pitchers go. And the reserves:

Allen Craig getting the last first base roster spot for the NL over Freddie Freeman is sure to cause some debate. In a surprisingly stacked year at the position, Ian Desmond has been the fourth-best shortstop in the NL, which may explain why he didn’t make the cut. Where is Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and his .417 on-base percentage?

Josh Donaldson is the biggest AL omission that jumps out at you. The Athletics third baseman has a .903 OPS, fourth-best among all MLB third basemen and third-best in the American League behind Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria. Longoria, by the way, also not an All-Star.

The Final Vote candidates:

We may see Yasiel Puig in the All-Star Game, after all. The Cuban, setting the baseball world on fire, has a 1.155 OPS through his first 30 Major League games. All five of the AL candidates are pitchers, and relievers at that. Would that we could submit two Final Votes for NL players and zero for the AL in this case.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

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.