Shocker: the Cardinals think the Dodgers celebrate too much

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Sometimes baseball players are criticized for not appreciating that they get paid a lot of money to play a kids’ game. Sometimes they are criticized for realizing that they’re playing a kids’ game and acting accordingly. Just can’t win!

That was the case with the Dodgers last night anyway. First, Adrian Gonzalez doubled and was pumped up about it, gesturing enthusiastically to his teammates in the Dodgers dugout. Then, later, Yasiel Puig tripled and — because his depth perception was off and because he’s faster than hell — he (a) celebrated what he thought was a homer out of the box; and (b) celebrated what actually turned out to be a triple when he got to third:

Not surprisingly the Cardinals who, with the Braves out of the playoffs, are the ranking active Fun Police, took issue. First Adam Wainwright on Gonzalez’s enthusiasm:

“I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff on third base, but I didn’t see what Yasiel did. Those guys are fired up. This is playoff baseball, they want it over there.”

Translation: it’s OK to be pumped, but you should be pumped in a particular way or else it’s “Mickey Mouse.”  Here’s Carlos Beltran on Puig:

“I think he doesn’t know,” Beltran said. “He still thinks he’s playing somewhere else, I don’t know. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that. Great ability, great talent, and I think with time, he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm … It’s not great, I don’t like it, but what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here and need to do my job.”

My view: Gonzalez wasn’t taunting anyone. He directed nothing at the Cardinals. He was fired up and was trying to fire up his teammates. Not sure how anyone can call that “Mickey Mouse.” Heck, until recently I thought the knock on Gonzalez was that he lacked fire and was dour. Again, can’t win.

Puig? Puig is, well, Puig. And while I can imagine you don’t like it if he’s doing that against your team, I can’t see how anyone can watch that guy and not smile. He’s enjoying himself. Yes, the game will humble him — until yesterday it had been pretty well in recent days — but there’s nothing wrong with being pumped up and enthused. And it is enthusiasm. It’s spontaneous. It’s not like he’s choreographing moves out there.

Don’t want those guys doing that stuff? Keep ’em off base. That shuts everyone 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.