Minor leaguers from the Cubs and White Sox suspended

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Great. Now, ten years from now, when these two lead the White Sox and Cubs to the World Series, they’ll have to answer all kinds of questions from the media:

Chicago White Sox Minor League right-handed pitcher Nicholas Blount has received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine.  The suspension of Blount, who is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League, will be effective at the start of next season.

I once spent a week trying a case in Federal Court in Great Falls, Montana. It was January 2004. It was around 20 degrees below zero before the wind chill. When I got my rental car at the airport the guy handed me an engine block heater. My hotel didn’t have any internet service so I went to an internet cafe in a strip mall full of old men looking at pornography.

I’m not saying such conditions excuse drug use. I’m just saying that I understand. Also:

Chicago Cubs Minor League shortstop Elliot Soto has received a 50-game suspension without pay after a second violation for a drug of abuse.  The suspension of Soto, who is currently on the roster of the Single-A Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League, will be effective at the start of next season.

Soto was a 13th round draft pick, decided not to sign, then came back and was a 15th round draft pick. His stock has not exactly rebounded.

 

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.