It's just been that kind of season for David Murphy. The kind where you keep expecting the law of averages to come into play, but eventually, it looks more like Murphy's Law, which is only ironic in that the player in question shares the same name. After 2012, there was much hope that David Murphy would be able to slide into an everyday role in left field, able to hit against both left and right-handed pitchers. He had moderate success in 2012 in that role, and while the hope was there, from others such as myself, there was much skepticism as to that dream becoming reality.
87 games David Murphy has appeared in, 326 plate appearances, and Murphy's triple-slash line on the season is .221/.282/.381 for an OPS of .663, putting him at 141st out of 162 players in Major League Baseball with enough plate appearances to qualify. In the sake of fairness, Elvis Andrus -- who has been frustrating to watch at the plate in his own right and the subject of much frustration -- is sitting at 158 with an OPS of .588.
Murphy's BABIP on the season is .222, which could indicate a certain amount of bad luck, but with the season over the halfway point, BABIP struggles can't be the sole reason for a player's struggles.
Interestingly, Murphy's average is the same against both left and right-handers at .221. The way in which he's arrived at each of those splits, however, is vastly different.
Murphy has over twice the number of appearances against right-handers, yet against lefties, almost has the same number of singles. However, extra base hits have been hard to come by against lefties. Of particular interest is the fact that his BABIP is actually lower against right-handers. The end result is a wRC+ of 46 against lefties and 86 against righties. Even against right-handers, Murphy is a below average hitter this season. His spray charts for his splits are below:
As demonstrated, David Murphy has struggled to use all fields against left-handers, and even when he makes contact, he's not doing so with any sort of power. If the BABIP were to level off a bit, Murphy could once again be a legitimate platoon threat against right-handers, but counting on any significant production from him against left-handers appears to be a fruitless endeavor at this point, something Ron Washington isn't likely to acknowledge until the bitter end. While Washington's loyalty to veterans can at time be a positive in the clubhouse, at times it has managed to hamper his team on the field, and this is one of those times.
Quite possibly the most damning evidence against David Murphy's season is his RE24. RE24 measures the aggregate runs scored above the run expectancy of a particular player over the course of the season given the base/out state in which their plate appearance happened. For example, each base/out state has a particular run expectancy based on historical context. And runs above (or below) that number are tagged on each plate appearance and a positve number means a player has scored above the average run expectancy throughout the season, while a negative number indicates that a player is failing to play up to the percentages.
Murphy's RE24 for this season is -19.80, good for 5th worst in Major League Baseball. Quite literally, David Murphy is the 5th worst rally-killer in baseball this season, and he hasn't shown any signs of improving that statistic.
What really sucks about all of this is that David Murphy is a great guy. I like the way he plays the game, his attitude, and everything that goes along with that. He waited a long time for the opportunity given to him this season, which almost makes me feel bad for even writing this, but when it all comes down to it, his performance this season is likely limiting the chance that the Rangers will come to terms with him this upcoming offseason to bring him back for 2014. Murphy wants to be an everyday player, much as Michael Young did before him, and the front office showed with the trade of Michael Young that they're willing to let a player leave if they value their potential contributions more than organization does.
There's still a lot of season left to be played, and it wouldn't surprise me to see David Murphy come up with a few key hits before it's all said and done, but it's been agonizing to watch him struggle this badly to this point in the season, and it's something I'm not sure he can fix with a sudden hot streak. For now, the main hope has to be that Murphy's Law takes a back seat and allows the law of averages to once again get behind the wheel.