Blue Jays GM says Ervin Santana didn’t want to pitch in the American League

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Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos had some interesting comments about Ervin Santana after the free agent right-hander turned down a similar offer from the Blue Jays to sign a one-year, $14.1 million deal with the Braves today.

John Lott of the National Post passed along Anthopoulos’ quotes from this morning’s appearance on Sportsnet 590 radio in Toronto, which included the GM saying that Santana had little interest in pitching in the American League and the right-hander’s decision “was not money, was not years.”

“We’re in the American League,” Anthopoulos said. “Guys that don’t want to be in the American League, there’s nothing we can do.”

Santana has spent his entire career in the AL pitching for the Angels and Royals, so it’d probably be a stretch to suggest he’s scared of spending another season in the same league he’s already spent nine years. And looking at things from Santana’s point of view it’s tough to blame him for trying to build up future value pitching in the NL East instead of the AL East. That’s just logical, rather than some sort of test of manhood. None of which makes his decision any less frustrating for Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays, of course.

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.