Can David Murphy pull a Mitch Moreland turnaround?

Scooping the Texas Rangers banner -- David Murphy

David Murphy makes a face after striking out.
This is the David Murphy face Texas Rangers fans are growing accustomed to.

First of all I’d like to thank Mitch Moreland for making me look like an absolute goof for writing this particular piece a few weeks ago.

Through most of April, it looked like my backing of Moreland might have been a tad off base. I thought I might have been wrong about giving him a chance to start every day. He certainly wasn’t getting it done and had become more of a rally killer than anything else.

That was April 26.

Over the last two weeks, though, Moreland is hitting .400 (14-for-35) with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI. In that same time frame, he’s raised his batting average 59 points (.224 to .279), on-base percentage 63 points (.268 to .331), slugging percentage 69 points (.408 to .477) and on-base plus slugging percentage 132 points (.676 to .808).

I’m not exactly sure whether to send him an “I’m sorry” card or one that says “you’re welcome.” However, I do have one other player to take exception with, especially with his struggles of late. While I’m not naïve enough to believe the same thing that happened to Moreland will happen to him, I am  curious to enough to at least give it a try.

I don’t have a personal issue with David Murphy – quite the contrary. I’m a big fan of the player he is on the field and how he carries himself off the field.

My view of David Murphy has been contrary to that of Moreland. During the offseason, I believed the Texas Rangers needed to give Moreland a real shot to be the everyday starter. They needed to give him the opportunity to show what he was capable of and, for at least the last two weeks, the belief manager Ron Washington has had in him is starting to pay off.

As for David Murphy, I believe quite the opposite. I never believed he was or should be anything more than a role player. A guy who comes off the bench and can fill in when needed in the late innings, or a guy who can come in and pinch-hit from time to time. That role, at least in my opinion, has always suited him better than a guy who is in the lineup daily.

His numbers, no matter which ones you look at, will make you cringe. David Murphy is hitting .196 with runners on base and .179 with runners in scoring position. Not exactly the kind of guy you want at the plate, down a run, in the late innings. You pretty much know how that at-bat is going to end.

It gets a little worse the more you dig into his numbers. When he’s the lead batter of the inning Murphy has just two hits in his 25 total at-bats (.080). How do you get a rally going if this is the guy who leads off a certain inning, especially if it’s the bottom of the ninth and you have a chance to tie the game?

So, what do the Rangers do about David Murphy? You can’t exactly send him to the minor leagues, and trading him won’t bring Texas anything of substance.

Unless he can show that things will turn around, unless he can show he’s starting to figure things out, should they give Jeff Baker the job on a full time basis? Though Washington believes Baker is his full-time utility player, he may need him more if David Murphy’s struggles continue.

Having a dead spot in the lineup, especially playing against National League teams over three straight days (Cubs, Brewers), isn’t something the Texas Rangers can afford. It’s one of the things that has bit them in the backside over their two appearances in the World Series.

Washington continued to stay with Michael Young last season no matter how much he struggled because he figured Young would turn it around at some point. That point never came and the offense never gained the needed momentum.

If they continue to run David Murphy out there and he continues to struggle, Washington is going to have to make other plans. I want to believe in David Murphy, I really do. But what he’s shown me over his first 31 games doesn’t seem to have a light at the end of the tunnel.

You never know; maybe he’ll read this and decide he’s going to make me look as bad as Mitch Moreland has over the last two weeks.

One can only hope.


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