Murphy’s Law: Hands Back, Be Yourself, Stay Consistent
Mike B. | On 27, May 2014
Consistency, it’s the thing every player and coach talks about and the key to success. The more consistent a ballplayer and team is, the more successful they become.
For the Indians David Murphy, 2014 has been all about re-finding the consistency he once had as a member of the Texas Rangers. Murphy signed a two-year, $11.5 million free agent contract with the Cleveland Indians last winter after a very subpar season with Texas in 2013. After never hitting lower than .269 in a full season with Texas, he hit just .220 in 2013.
“I think I kind of stepped out of who I was,” Murphy said of his subpar 2013 season. “As a player, you really need to stay within yourself and you need to continue to be yourself.”
Murphy was one of the veteran players remaining from a team that just missed winning the World Series in 2011. Gone were Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young. Murphy was left to shoulder a bigger load of the offense and he struggled.
“Think I tried to pull the ball a little more than I had in the past,” Murphy said. “I tried to hit the ball for a little bit more power than I had instead of just trying to be me.”
While the Indians offense has struggled as a team in 2014, Murphy has seemed to re-find his consistency. After starting the season 2-for-14, Murphy caught fire on April 6 against the Minnesota Twins, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and a run batted in during a 10-7 loss.
Since that early season slump, Murphy has found his old stride and consistency. In April he hit, .282, with two home runs and 18 runs batted in. While he has dipped a little in May, he’s still hitting .269 on the season. While Murphy often doesn’t take the prettiest swings, he makes a point of keeping his hands back as long as possible before they enter the hitting zone. Murphy sometimes starts his body and stride early, but can adjust to off-speed pitches by keeping his hands back and dropping the ball over the infield.
Murphy’s hands at the plate and consistency have been keys to his early success with the Tribe, but the best could be yet to come. He’s a known slow-starter in his career and gets better as the summer months progress. Over his career, Murphy hits just .237 in April, getting hotter each month until he hits .298 in August and .302 in September.
Originally slated to hit at the bottom of the batting order, Murphy has been shifted all over due to the struggles of Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana. Murphy has hit in every batting spot between fourth and ninth in the lineup. As the Tribe tries to get consistency in their entire offense, including getting Jason Kipnis back today or Wednesday, Murphy has been a mainstay with Michael Brantley.
The Indians have not had a .300 hitter since 2010 when Shin-Soo Choo completed the feat, but Brantley and Murphy may be the team’s only chances to break the streak this season. Murphy has shifted from his natural position of left field to right field this season to compensate for playing with Brantley.
The most admirable quality about Murphy’s consistency and play this season, however, may be that he has not made an error all season. He’s the only Indian who can make that claim.
Photo: Getty Images