David Murphy: Undrafted

David Murphy hit over .300 with double-digit power and steals last season. He’s in line for more playing time with Josh Hamilton gone. He just turned 31, so age is only a slight concern.

But David Murphy wasn’t drafted in the RotoGraphs Mock Draft. Maybe he should have been.

First of all, this is all an excuse to embed this humorous tweet:

But now that we’ve done that, we can move on to Serious Analysis TM.

There’s an obvious flaw with Murphy that some of you may be shouting at the screen. The lefty can’t hit lefties, or at least he hasn’t yet. A career spent mashing righties to the tune of an .841 OPS and a 119 wRC+ has also been spent flailing against lefties for a .675 OPS and a 75 wRC+. The power dives, he walks less and he strikes out more. That may not be likely to change for a couple of reasons.

He has only managed 595 plate appearances against lefties, meaning that his work against right-handed pitchers is good for 76% of his total time at the plate. That’s about 6% more than he should see if he was facing pitchers of both hands at the American League rate last season. He’s being platooned now, and that probably means his team knows more than we do about his abilities against southpaws. And, let’s say you were to regress his work against lefties to the league average to reflect the fact that he hasn’t accrued a huge sample of work in those situations, you’d merely push that 75 wRC+ closer to 100, but it would be impossible to move it to the other side of 100.

The fact remains that David Murphy has never put up 600 plate appearances, and he might now have the chance. With Josh Hamilton gone, it’s going to take some combination of Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon just to figure out center field. If none of the three step forward for a full-time gig, that doesn’t leave a palatable platoon option for Murphy in left. In other words: Craig Gentry is fine, and right-handed, but he’s the only other right-hander, and he may need to spell the lefty center fielders.

What happens to Murphy’s stats if you add back in work against left-handers? Obviously you’d need to dial some of the power and contact skills back, considering his past. Let’s do without the regression and treat his near-600 plate appearances against lefties as his true talent, then force his lefty/righty mix back to 70/30, pro-rate the new mix to 600 plate appearances, and see what he might have done the last three years if he had played daily.

Actual Full Time
HR R RBI SB BA HR R RBI SB BA
2010 12 54 65 14 .291 13 50 77 14 .286
2011 11 46 46 11 .275 12 46 63 11 .246
2012 15 65 61 10 .304 14 51 68 10 .296

Murphy has a .091 ISO against left-handers, and six lifetime home runs against them in almost a full season of plate appearances. He also has six runs, career, when a lefty is on the mound. His batting average is .266, and his plate discipline (more strikeouts) backs that up. If you like David Murphy, and you want a full slate of at-bats for him, you’re likely to add a home run or two — no more — and a few RBI. But you’ll also have to take that batting average down a notch. The fans seem to have the right idea so far, with a 15/72/78/11 line in 566 plate appearances, but the .289 batting average might be a little healthy.

Considering he was the 186th-ranked player last season, and worth almost $6, he should probably be drafted. But don’t expect much more value, because of the negatives that come with the added playing time. Take a notch of Murphy’s rate stats, and add it back in to his counting stats, and you get something similar to what he did last season, just in a slightly different format.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

10 Responses to “David Murphy: Undrafted”

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  1. Sarge says:

    Would you take Murphy over say Logan Morrison or Melky Cabrera?

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Melky would have more batting average upside, but he’s just about the perfect over/under for Murphy. Feel like Morrison has more upside than the two, if he can hit like he’s supposed to, but more downside. So Murphy over either one in terms of safety, the other two for upside. Good grouping.

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    • Cory says:

      I’d take a bigger chance on Melky, given who hits after him (most likely). If he can play to his career norms, than he should rack up 90+ runs with home runs and steals in the teens. Also, he hits both lefties and righties.

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  2. Todd says:

    I had him last year and will keep him this year. Another important split for him is home and away. At home last year, he was 335/404/513 and his career is 292/351/477. I have a nice platoon with him and Ryan Ludwick, trying to get them both as many home at bats as possible. It’s a good way to max out his value. 5 category roto guys should always be drafted.

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  3. JREwing says:

    “He’s being platooned now, and that probably means his team knows more than we do about his abilities against southpaws.”

    Not sure you want to take Ron Washington moves as some sort of higher level performance-based knowledge. I’ll agree with you on counting stats not being projected much higher than 2012 as a base. Watching him, he did look a lot more confident and comfortable with lefties last season. So there is some upside potential for him if he does get the full slate of at bats.

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  4. MIT says:

    Should we completely throw out his .347 avg against lefties in 2012 due to the high BABIP and small sample size?

    Murphy has stated several times that he is working very hard on hitting lefties since before the start of the 2012 season. He said that he was exclusively taking BP off of lefty pitchers. I wonder if there’s any evidence of actual improvement in 2012

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  5. Atari says:

    For those planning to employ a platoon strategy, any other OFs to keep on the radar?

    I figure Gomes can be the new Cody Ross, even if he is facing the unfavorable part of the platoon. Jason Kubel was a good find last year, but not sure what the Ross signing and trade rumors will do to his performance next year.

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    • Todd says:

      Scott Hairston was 286/317/550 vs. lefties last year and 286/335/528 on the road. Tyler Colvin slugged 652! at Coors and Michael Cuddyer was over 500 at Coors. Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz are two more with big home splits. Garrett Jones, Will Venable and Carlos Quentin were all above 500 slugging on the road.

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  6. Jack says:

    Murphy was much improved v. LHP in 2012. His OPS was .845 (almost 150 points higher than his career). However, it was fueled by a .433 BABIP.

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  7. Jon L. says:

    It’s hard to believe a full slate of at-bats last year would’ve caused Murphy to hit -1 more homers, even if virtually all of them came against lefties.

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