Domingo Santana is 0-for-17 with 14 strikeouts and “just panicked” defensively

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Astros prospect Domingo Santana hit .292 with 14 homers and an .844 OPS in 104 games at Triple-A to earn his first call-up to the big leagues, but the 21-year-old outfielder has been an absolute mess so far in Houston.

Santana has begun his MLB career by going 0-for-17 with 14 strikeouts at the plate and in watching last night’s Astros-Twins game it amazed me how many sub-90 mph fastballs the right-handed-hitting rookie swung through from left-handers Tommy Milone and Brian Duensing like they were approaching triple-digits.

And as if that weren’t bad enough–0-for-17 with 14 strikeouts!–Santana also made a bone-headed defensive play in left field last night, lackadaisically fielding Joe Mauer’s go-ahead single in the ninth inning of what had been a 2-2 game to allow an extra run to come around to score.

Here’s how Santana explained the defensive miscue afterward to Howard Chen of CSNHouston.com:

I just panicked. I was just trying to throw the ball to the cut-off man, but I just panicked.

And here was manager Bo Porter’s take:

You’ve just got to get the ball in. Whether you throw the ball to the shortstop or you throw it to the first baseman, you’ve got to get the ball to the infield. At no point should the outfielder hold on to the baseball.

Santana still projects to have a solid career, but watching him last night it was tough not to feel sorry for him and wonder how long it’ll take him to get comfortable in the big leagues. He seems totally, utterly lost.

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.