Don Mattingly will manage the Dodgers next year

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This report was sort of lost last night as it came during the game, but Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have apparently agreed to disagree about his long term future in Los Angeles and will reunite next season for what looks like what will be a lame duck year. Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times reports:

Don Mattingly will return to manage the Dodgers next season. Mattingly and the Dodgers agreed on at least that much Wednesday, as both sides said they would honor their existing contract.

“Absolutely,” said Stan Kasten, the Dodgers’ president and primary decision maker.

Said Mattingly’s agent, Ray Schulte: “Donnie’s always been a man of his word and he’s under contract.”

This contrasts with Mattingly’s position earlier this week, in which he said he wouldn’t come back if the Dodgers merely exercised his 2014 option and did not extend him. This was followed by the Dodgers firing Mattingly’s friend and bench coach Trey Hillman. And it came when there are multiple job openings, including one on the Nationals, where Mattingly was once said to be a highly sought-after managerial candidate. Now, he’s back in Dodger blue. Maybe not peacefully. But he’s back.

One would think that the Dodgers would want to now work on a contract extension with Mattingly. Who, after all, did a pretty darn admirable job holding a team together that looked ready to crumble and had what, ultimately, was a pretty successful season.

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.