It’s been a little bit since we’ve chatted about Daniel Murphy. I mean I don’t actually think we’ve ever chatted about Daniel Murphy but that shouldn’t stop us from doing so now. When Murphy signed with Colorado in 2019 we all got very excited. Unfortunately, he was coming off a major knee injury and broke his index finger just days into the season. He came back a month later and even his GM added after the season that he thinks Murphy came back too soon. Add in that he was 34 and you get the recipe for a long season for Murphy. He’s back this year though with a vengeance as he’s hitting .372/.413/1.041 with three home runs and 11 RBI. He obviously won’t maintain that kind of peak performance in the long run but with 25% of the season already over there really isn’t a long run.
What is Murphy doing differently that is leading to this success? For one thing, he is barreling the ball at an impressive 12.5% rate while hitting line drives at a 25% rate and using all fields. If you do that in Coors Field’s enormous outfield and you will find success and that is exactly what Murphy has done so far. The other piece of the puzzle here is that he has found an increased ability to hit offspeed and breaking pitches this season. Last year he struggled to the tune of a .211 AVG with a .310 SLG against offspeed pitches and a .252 AVG with a .383 SLG against breaking balls. This year? The complete opposite especially against offspeed pitches where he’s hitting .500 with a 1.000 SLG. Add in an improved .333 AVG against breakers and you start to see where the success is coming from. Could it be small sample magic? Absolutely. This is what I will be monitoring as the season goes on to see if the success continues. If it does then we might be seeing a shift in approach from Murphy and that could help shed some light on the sustainability of his current output.
With all this being said I do not expect his 27.3 HR/FB% to stay at that level as that would be over double his career high there. It’s also worth noting that there is still some signs that luck is having a hand in the results as well as indicated by his BABIP and xBA, though I suspect the regression won’t be as harsh as you’d initially think. Murphy was always a high BABIP guy in Washington and Coors always get dinged by xBA so we shall just have to wait and see. If Murphy keeps up even a semblance of this performance for the rest of the season he could easily end up a top ten First Baseman at the end of the year. For a guy who’s rostered in just 51% of Yahoo leagues that’s not something you can just leave on out there on the wire. Amen and Hallelujah.
Fernando Tatis Jr (SS, SD) – 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI – There might not be a hotter hitter in baseball right now than Tatis Jr. as his double dong Saturday give him five HRs in as many games and seven on the season. The surprising part is that he’s hitting .322 as well. I had always assumed that the power would carry over from last year but that the average would regression. So far he’s proving me wrong.
Jorge Soler (OF, KC) – 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI –
Speaking of hot hitters, Soler’s two bombs on Saturday make three in his last three games along with six RBIs. Soler is picking up right where he left off and all the power numbers seem to show that his prodigious home run production in 2019 was definitely not a fluke.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET) – 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI –
The batting average isn’t there yet as Miggy is hitting just .209 on the season but he’s already up to four HRs after Saturday and even added his first double as well. He’s not rosterable now but if he manages to find some middle ground between power and average he could perhaps become useful in deep leagues.
J.D. Davis (3B, OF, NYM) – 2-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI –
Another young breakout from last year that’s proving that his 2019 wasn’t a fluke. With yesterday’s home run and 4 RBI that brings him to 3 HRs with 11 RBI and a .319 average. He’s moved into the #3 spot in the Mets batting order and that should lead to oodles and oodles of counting stats and production for Davis.
Austin Slater (OF, SF) – 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI –
It’s hard to know what to make of Slater’s hot start as he’s hitting .310 on the young season with a 12.1 BB%. It’s only 33 PAs so I’d not get too invested in it but if he continues to rake against lefties he might be worth looking at in daily or Ottoneau leagues.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF, SF) – 2-5, HR, 2B, R, 2 RBI –
Most people assumed Mike Yastrzemski
‘s breakout last season was a fluke. Instead, after crushing his fourth home run on the season Saturday, he’s actually playing even better. For the year he’s hitting .321 with the aforementioned 4 HRs, 14 runs and 10 RBI while striking out less and walking at over double the rate he did last year.
Marcus Semien (SS, OAK) – 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB –
Semien followed up Friday’s walkoff hit with a home run in his very next at bat. He has been a major disappointment so far this season but after adding a single and a stolen base to his Saturday homer there might signs that Semien could be righting the ship.
Byron Buxton (OF, MIN) – 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI –
Injuries and a slow start have hampered Byron Buxton
yet again but after a big Saturday home run and four RBI he’s now gone yard in three straight games amidst a modest five game hitting streak that has seen him accumulate five runs and seven RBI as well. It’s just a few games but this hot streak could be the start of something beautiful.
Adalberto Mondesi (SS, KC) – 1-6, R, 2 SB –
Mondesi has been a disaster so far this season for the Royals. You were likely rostering Mondesi for the stolen bases but until Saturday they hadn’t been there either. Hopefully this is a sign he’s getting back to his thieving ways.
Jay Bruce (OF, PHI) – 2-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI –
We’re always talking about small samples right now but for Philly hitters it’s even smaller since they’ve missed so many games. With that being said Jay Bruce
is looking young again as he’s hitting .300/.391/1.191 on the season after hitting his second HR yesterday. He barely rostered across the board and might be worth a pickup.
Starling Marte (OF, ARI) – 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI –
There’s a lot to like about the start to Marte’s season, not only is he hitting for power (2 HRs, 5 2Bs) on the season and an outrageous .362 AVG with 2 SB but he’s also walking at a 10.7% clip which is over double his 2019 rate.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, COL) – 3-5, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, BB –
We keep saying at some point Blackmon’s getting old and that his production will fall off a cliff and like he’s amazing hair/beard combo, he keeps on reminding us he isn’t going anywhere. Hitting a blistering .446 on the year with three home runs and an incredible 18 RBI, we could be seeing an MVP caliber season from Chuck Nasty.
Franmil Reyes (OF, CLE) – 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI –
With six hits in his last three games and a homer on Saturday we might finally be seeing Reyes get going at the plate. He absolutely blasted this home for 421 feet to dead center field and was an convincing demonstration of the big man’s strength.
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)