Aug 1, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder David Murphy (7) rounds the bases in front of Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius (1) after hitting a home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game at the Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

David Murphy: 2014 Cleveland Indians Player Profile

David Murphy Looking to Rebound in 2014

For us there is no spring. Just the wind that smells fresh before the storm.

The Cleveland Indians cannot afford to rest on the laurels of a brilliant 2013. Unlike the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, the wealthy few who lord their riches over the rest of the league, each day that passes is a missed opportunity, each edge not seized is another loss, another step behind. They need to maximize every dollar, every minute spent on roster construction and make sure every at-bat and pitch are quality. That’s how they made the playoffs last year and that’s how the organization has to live if it wants to maintain relevancy.

So with that in mind, the Tribe signed David Murphy this winter to take over a good chunk of right field. Murphy has spent the last few seasons in the desolate wastes of northeastern Texas, mostly right fielder and a great example of the kind of role player that doesn’t blow you out of the water, but keeps you winning.

Between 2009 and 2012 he was a fine player, packing a 108 OPS+, decent defense and maintaining one of the best “baseball player” looks in the game today. He’s a tall, rangy dude with a very square head, something right out of the 50’s. It’s a shame the Indians got rid of Lou Marson, I feel like the two of them would have gotten along like gangbusters. Murph is a fly cat, he’s no crumb who will blow his top, though he does cause you to start using 50’s slang words if you aren’t careful.

A dreadful 2013 for Murph was a disappointing end to a lightly decorated but endearing career in Texas, and the Indians laid out the long green to the tune of twelve million big ones for his services. His daughter Faith actually broke the news when her class was talking about the Indians helping Pilgrims for Thanksgiving, mentioning in passing as kids are wont to do, that her daddy was going to be an Indian. Which goes to show  you, don’t trust kids. Murph (in case you can’t tell, I am forcing this on you) was in every way bad last year, something like this:

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

HR

SB

BB%

K%

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

BABIP

2012

476

.220

.282

.374

13

1

7.8

12.4

.289

73

.4

.227

david murphy

Feb 24, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians outfielder David Murphy took part in the annual photo day at Goodyear Ballpark . Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

In every way, save homers, Murph had his worst year ever. He had a shoulder problem of some kind and probably other nagging injuries that sapped his speed, but whatever it was, nobody was happy – him, his fans, his agent entering a contract year, even Faith. But if you’ll notice, I included his batting average on balls in play which was a dreadful .227. League average on that is somewhere around .290 and Murphy’s career BABIP is .302. Even if he were to only get back to league average he’d instantly become gallons more valuable, at least to the degree of league average. He was dinged up last year, but the ball found gloves more often than normal so perhaps there’s something to that, as well.

I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.

Now he’s changed the Red, White and Blue of the Rangers for the Blue, Red and White of the Indians and shacked up by the Cuyahoga, kind of. With any luck, and as I said he was rather unlucky last season, Murph will be in facing righties more often than not. So let’s take a look at a couple of projections, courtesy of Fangraphs:

 

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

HR

SB

BB%

K%

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Steamer

463

.263

.327

.411

12

6

8.4

14.0

.323

106

1.7

Oliver

600

.245

.309

.389

15

4

8.3

13.2

.307

95

1.7

ZiPS

457

.257

.317

.403

11

7

8.1

14.9

.315

101

1.6

Merritt

450

.273

.345

.445

13

9

8.9

13.5

.345

115

2.1

Having looked at these things a lot lately, I have begun to wonder whether Mr. Oliver is just an old sad sack pessimist that expects the worst. In general, everyone seems to think last year was more than just a down year plagued by minor dings and tweaks, the little things that can sap a player of his strength.

I think if one thing does suffer, it’ll be Murph’s power numbers since he’s not going to have the jet stream of Texas to work with anymore, though even that has been negated the last few years with adjustments to the Ballpark at Arlington’s structure in the outfield. He likely peaked in 2012, but to think that it’s all downhill from here is a little foolish. Plus, who knows, change of scenery might do him good. He also needs a motorcycle.

See you at the party Richter!

It’s going to be a platooning time in right field with Murphy and Raburn having a little shindig of their own out there by the visitors’ ‘pen. I hope they become the best of friends, they seem like they’d get along and it would make aggregating their numbers into those of one ultra-man more comfortable.

For his career, Murphy has an .816/.657 platoon OPS split, in particular his slugging percentage is more than 100 points higher against righties. Francona is going to have a great time swapping the two of them in, plus Murph can play other outfield spots when Brantley or Bourn need a breather.

David Murphy isn’t the game changing acquisition, he’s just a guy who does baseball things pretty well and by the fact of not being a rookie, brings that ever elusive “veteran presence” to the club, along with “postseason experience”. Whatever else, he’s a good guy by all accounts, he can hit and he can catch. What more do you want?

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Tags: Cleveland Indians David Murphy Ryan Raburn

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