by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Nationals dealt Daniel Murphy yesterday, as they’ve seemingly fallen out of playoff contention and he is ticketed for free agency after the season. The question is if he offers any type of impact potential for the Cubs, or is he simply depth and a valuable insurance policy for injuries and struggles?
In 103 AB since the All-Star Break he’s certainly looking like an impact bat, posting a strong line across the board:
.340 (35-103), 5 HR, 17 RBI, 11 R, 1 SB
He’s clearly gotten a little bit healthier, with a significant increase in his Hard% (14.6% to 33.6%) as well as his HR/FB (3.2% to 13.9%). Those numbers certainly more closely reasonable what he had done in his first two seasons as a member of the Nationals:
Murphy is showing an even better approach, despite his struggles, as he owns a 4.4% SwStr% and 30.4% O-Swing% on the season. Of course he’s been seeing more “Hard” pitches this season (65.10%), which could be in part due to his early season struggles. That said the metrics are promising and only further point towards a strong finish.
It’s possible he was getting a little too pull happy in the first half of the season (43.9%), but he’s done a much better job of using the entire field in the second half:
- Pull% – 31.2%
- Cent% – 29.0%
- Oppo% – 39.8%
With Addison Russell (.259/.326/.359) currently manning shortstop, the Cubs could easily shift Javier Baez over to make room for Murphy to play every day. They also could conceivably give him time at 1B and/or 3B (especially with Kris Bryant currently on the DL), though that doesn’t seem quite as likely.
Regardless, with underlying metrics backing up his strong second half thus far (and his .341 BABIP isn’t unrealistic as he’s hitting the ball with authority and using the entire field. Couple that with his strong approach and it’s easy to imagine strong results moving forward. Even if the Cubs don’t necessarily view him as a starting option today, there’s little doubt that he’s going to force the issue. Hopefully you stayed patient with him, as you should continue to reap the benefits.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com