There were some concerns for Daniel Murphy entering the offseason. He was falling in early drafts after he didn’t look like the same player in 2018 following surgery on his right knee.
All of a sudden, Murphy is on the rise. Calling Coors Field home can instantly boost the value of a player. Murphy signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Colorado Rockies and is likely going to play first base most of the time. In some leagues, he already has eligibility at first and second base. He played 14 games at first base last season and 71 at second base.
Murphy had microfracture surgery on his right knee of October 2017 and missed the first 64 games of 2018. While Murphy didn’t perform to the level he did in 2016-17, he did get better after the All-Star break as he got back into the rhythm of playing.
In 28 games before the All-Star break, he hit .253 with six runs, one home run, 12 RBIs and a .643 OPS, even though it’s a small sample size. In the second half, Murphy hit .315 with 34 runs, 11 home runs, 30 RBIs and an .844 OPS in 241 at-bats between the Nationals and Cubs. Overall, Murphy played in 91 games and hit .299 with 40 runs, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .790 OPS in 328 at-bats.
Murphy made good contact as he usually does and he continued his recent trend of hitting more fly balls with a 39.2 percent rate and a 25.8 percent line drive rate. Murphy did see a big drop in his hard hit rate down to 26.1 percent. It was 38.2 percent in 2016 and 35.7 percent in 2017.
Health is the biggest concern for Murphy heading into the season. He turns 34 on April 1, but he still can hit. The move to Coors Field is a big boost for any player especially one with the skill set of Murphy. Coors Field has a spacious outfield and Murphy will find a lot of gaps. He had 47 doubles in 2016 and 43 in 2017. Coors Field has been one of the most hitter-friendly parks the last three seasons, finishing in the top two in runs every year since 2009, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors.
Murphy has an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 149.26 on fantrax.com and that will rise as we get closer to March. Murphy should be drafted in the Top 80 and he’s a bargain in current drafts.
Murphy has been one of the better hitters in baseball the last few seasons and if the knee is stable, he will be very good. Even though Murphy isn’t an elite power hitter, over a full season he should hit at least .300 and reach 20 home runs with good counting stats.
Steamer projects Murphy with a slash line of .307/.360/.506 with 81 runs, 22 home runs and 86 RBIs in 547 at-bats. That’s a solid floor and he has a higher ceiling if healthy. The high average is a real boost for Fantasy teams, allowing owners to take on a player later in the draft that is an average liability.
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