Red Sox unveil statue for Carl Yastrzemski

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The Red Sox unveiled a statue yesterday honoring Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. It’s the third statue at Fenway Park, joining one of Ted Williams and a “teammates” statue featuring Williams, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr.

The new monument sits outside Fenway’s Gate B and depicts a 44-year-old Yastrzemski tipping his cap at Fenway before his final major league at-bat 30 years ago on October 2, 1983. Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Luis Tiant, and Bill Lee were among those on hand for yesterday’s unveiling.

Yastrzemski, who also threw out of the first pitch prior to yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays, told the Associated Press that he was touched by the team’s tribute.

“It means tremendous importance to me,” he said, standing at the base of the statue after a 30-minute ceremony that included some of his former teammates and current members of the AL East champions. “This is as important to me as being elected to the Hall of Fame and having my number retired. It’s a tremendous honor.”

Plenty deserving of the honor, Yastrzemski spent his entire 23-year career with the Red Sox, compiling a .285/.379/.462 batting line to go along with 3,419 hits, 452 home runs, and 1844 RBI. An 18-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, he was awarded the American League MVP award in 1967 after winning the Triple Crown.

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.