Earlier today, we learned that Josh Hamilton would miss six-to-eight weeks with a non-displaced fracture of his humorous bone. Check that, humerus – it’s not very funny for Rangers fans and Hamilton owners, after all. Badumching. What does this mean for the Rangers? We’ll be right along with plenty of waiver wire replacements, but the Rangers will obviously need to move things around.
First up, David Murphy. Murphy will probably play every day in the outfield for the next two months, and if you go back and pro-rate out his previous years, he looks like he could hit 20+ home runs and steal 10+ bases in a full year. That makes him an immediate pickup in most leagues, so run go get him. But! There is an asterisk. Murphy is a lefty, and the team has avoided playing him every day in the past. He has a career .266/.307/.385 line against southpaws, compared to .289/.356/.490 against righties. That’s only in about 400ish plate appearances so far, so it’s not statistically reliable, but just looking from his usage patterns, it looks like the team thinks that he might have issues against lefties. That’s enough for me to sit him against lefties in mixed leagues, if I can. He’s not quite an every-day mixed-league starter, even if he’s a great bench get.
What will the team do against lefties if they don’t start Murphy? For sure, Mike Napoli has been taking first base at-bats from Mitch Moreland against lefties, but since Moreland is a lefty, it doesn’t make much sense to expect Moreland in the outfield. If the team plays Murphy, expect a lower batting average overall while he’s in there. Maybe Moreland does end up in the outfield some games, though – his minor league splits against lefties were not so stark that they predicted he would be a platoon player in the major leagues. According to Driveline Baseball, his total minor league MLE versus lefties was .241/.310/.362, and versus righties that line was .239/.293/.376. If any long-term good comes out of this, it might be that the team is forced to play Moreland against lefties and he performs ably enough to become an everyday player at first base.
Chris Davis is supposedly a healthy scratch from his minor league game and might be coming up to the majors, but even though he’s raking right now in Triple-A (.435/1.095/1.530), he of course comes with a moon-sized asterisk, his 34.5% career strikeout rate. Also, he’s not an outfielder, but maybe he can grab a glove. AL-only owners will probably still want to wait and see before picking him up.