Difference Maker: David Murphy

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Like Josh Hamilton, David Murphy is a 6’4” 31-year-old left-handed former first-round draft pick who spent a significant portion of the past few seasons playing left field for the Texas Rangers.  Unlike Hamilton, Murphy is still here.  And while no reasonable person expects him to single-handedly fill the offensive production void left by Hamilton, if Murphy is able to capitalize on this opportunity to be the team’s everyday left fielder by performing at a similar level as he did last year, he could very well prove to be a more consistent and efficient presence than the Angels’ new $125M migraine.
The biggest knock against Murphy at the plate throughout his career has been his relatively anemic slash line against left-handed pitching: .266/.313/.361 (while only amassing a grand total of 6 HR and 62 RBI in those at-bats).  Such weakness from one side has relegated Murphy to platoon status during his seven-year big league career, but a marked improvement in those situations during 2012 gives reason to believe he may now be ready to regularly deliver as an everyday left fielder.

Skeptics – and there are many – will claim Murphy’s startling success against lefties last year was merely an anomaly, and not indicative that he has now figured out southpaws on a permanent basis.  Feel free to say nay if you must, but it’s really just as likely – if not more so – that Murphy has simply continued to develop with each passing season of big league experience.  He could be entering his prime, which may not have anywhere near the ceiling of Hamilton’s (mainly from a power perspective), but also certainly won’t approach the depths of said former Ranger’s deep, deep basement.

Murphy doesn’t possess Hamilton’s cannon of an arm, nor will his bat ever hit balls as far, but Murphy is actually dissimilar to Hamilton in all the right ways.  Murphy doesn’t have any baggage, while Hamilton’s could fill an entire fleet of 747s.  Murphy will never miss an inning due to Red Bull-induced optical hypochondria, whereas that’s been known to sideline Hamilton during extended stretches of his team’s crucial late-season playoff chase.  And Murphy certainly deserves bonus points for simply not being married to Katie Hamilton.

The difference David Murphy will make on the 2013 Texas Rangers is being a smart, consistent hitter who won’t give away at-bats, while constantly hustling in the field and on the basepaths, and providing a steadying, respectable influence in the clubhouse.  David Murphy is not Josh Hamilton, and thank sweet Baseball Jesus that he isn’t!  The Rangers just might be a better team because of it.

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.

Bob Bland

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