With D.J. LeMahieu a free agent it makes sense that the Colorado Rockies targeted Daniel Murphy, but if you believe the talk after he inked a free agent contract he’s ticketed to mostly play first base as opposed to second. That means his addition is going to impact the outlook for Ryan McMahon (who has never truly been given an opportunity) as opposed to Garrett Hampson, though the latter could quickly face a challenge from Brendon Rodgers for playing time (and even McMahon could technically be a candidate).
Regardless of how the playing time shakes out, the addition of Murphy has to be seen as a good one for the Rockies. There were questions entering 2018, as he missed the early part of the season due to microfracture surgery on his knee, but he ultimately finished with a strong line:
.299 Batting Average (98 Hits)
12 Home Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.336 On Base Percentage
.454 Slugging Percentage
.308 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Overall his Hard% was down, at 26.1%, though he showed some signs as he got healthy (35.7% in August) and was consistently hitting line drives (25.8%). Forget about the power, which has been consistent over the past few seasons, moving to the vast expanses of Colorado should afford him the opportunity to be a doubles machine given the line drive rate and willingness to use the entire field (36.1% Oppo% in ’18, 30.1% for his career).
Couple that with a strong ability to make contact (6.2% SwStr% last season) and you would think that he’s a near lock to contribute a .300+ average. Want to say he doesn’t have the speed to maintain an elevated BABIP? With his underlying marks he doesn’t need a .360 BABIP to get there. A .320ish mark would be enough, and that shouldn’t be an issue.
Even if he just maintains the power surge from the past few seasons, meaning a 22-25 HR campaign, he’s going to look highly attractive (and with half his games in Colorado would it be surprising to see him exceed that mark). Joining Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and others, a .300/22 HR type season would yield ample opportunity for runs and RBI. What if he can add a few more home runs? The results are going to be impressive.
There are questions about Murphy’s health and he could ultimately spend the bulk of his playing time at 1B. That positional eligibility is going to be a question for 2020, and whether or not the numbers will play there. For 2019 he is going to enter the year with 2B eligibility, and with versatility and strong production he’s going to remain one of the better options in the league.
Source – Fangraphs
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