Breaking Down the Breakdown: David Murphy

by Jay Hashop

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“I’m a big believer in Michael Young. And if the ship sinks, I’ll still be on it.”
– Ron Washington, August 2012

The S.S. Ultimate Professional officially sank on October 5th, 2012, when the Texas Rangers lost the AL Wild Card game to mighty Joe Saunders and the Baltimore Orioles. Coming off a strong 2011 season in which FanGraphs credited Young with 3.5 fWAR (FanGraphs wins above replacement), the Rangers’ super-utility player struggled all season at the plate and in the field, ending the season at -1.6 fWAR as one of the worst everyday players in Major League Baseball. Contributing significantly to his collapse was the complete lack of power Young displayed in 2012, when he posted his lowest season marks in both home runs (8) and isolated slugging (.093) in over a decade. Additionally, Young’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) dropped to .299 from the .367 he recorded in 2011. The breakdown in Young’s game was so severe that general manager Jon Daniels paid the Phillies 10 million dollars to take Young in exchange for a middle reliever and a bullpen prospect in case Young had permanently lost the ability to play at least replacement-level baseball.

While Young fizzled, his teammate David Murphy sizzled on his way to accumulating more fWAR in 2012 (3.9) than he had from 2009 through 2011 (3.7). Murphy finally appeared to have conquered the left-handed pitching demons that had forced him into a platoon-like role for much of his career, and the Rangers showed confidence in Murphy by naming him the everyday left fielder going into 2013. A .433 BABIP against left-handed pitchers on only 60 balls in play served as cause for concern about steep regression, but Murphy at least appeared to be a sufficient corner outfield option. Continue reading “Breaking Down the Breakdown: David Murphy”

Buyer Beware: Two players to avoid in MLB Free Agency

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By: Patrick Harrel

MLB Free Agency is upon us and with that comes players moving teams, crazy contracts, and MLB writers scrambling to get the latest rumors out of team executives. In the coming weeks, teams will start signing players, and as salary figures are tossed out, heads will spin.

Overpaying is sometimes just the cost of doing business in the MLB, a league without a salary cap, but often, that overpaying can be a killer blow to a franchise. In 2006, as the Astros were trying to put together another team that could go deep into the playoffs after reaching the World Series in 2005, they spent $13 million on Woody Williams and $100 million on Carlos Lee. Williams was released in spring training the following year, Lee hamstrung the Astros payroll for the next six seasons, and the Astros bottomed out to be the worst team in baseball for three seasons in a row.

Today, we discuss a pair of veteran free agents that teams should stay away from if they want to avoid the fate the Astros fell victim to in the winter of 2006. Continue reading “Buyer Beware: Two players to avoid in MLB Free Agency”

NLDS Day One: What We Learned

by Dylan Ackerman Last night, we got our first taste of real playoff baseball. Not that the one game Wild Card games are not important, but it’s only with the Division Series that teams are guaranteed to face each other multiple times. Last night gave us the first games in which the teams will meet again, so an understanding of what happened in each game … Continue reading NLDS Day One: What We Learned