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June 5, 2013
Scouting David Murphy (on the Mound)
Rangers left fielder David Murphy is normally a solid offensive contributor, posting a career .277 TAv. This season, he’s been subpar at just .234. What’s a manager to do? Why not change his position? Ron Washington, short of arms in a 17–5 blowout at the hands of the Red Sox on Tuesday night, decided to audition Murphy as a relief pitcher.
Position players, as I have previously established, are actually quite serviceable as emergency pitchers. Let’s scout Murphy and see how he compares to previous position players who’ve been pressed into service on the mound.
Carp was so flustered that a position player had struck him out, or that a knuckleball had struck him out, or that the pitch was a borderline ball, or some combination of these, that he vented within earshot of home plate umpire Andy Fletcher and got tossed for arguing balls and strikes.
Murphy’s knuckler, in a small sample size, showed some variation in spin pattern (see below)—which is essential to making the pitch effective. R.A. Dickey still has by far the best knuckler in the game, but for an outfielder who hadn’t pitched since high school, Murphy’s was pretty impressive. With some work, he could probably develop the ability to impart occasional topspin to the ball so that it’s even more unpredictable.
The spread of the locations is pretty standard for a left-handed pitcher with a ¾ arm slot—up and away or down and in to righties. He was decent at changing eye levels, but he did leave a few pitches in very hittable spots. The three balls in play were all hit pretty hard, and only the BABIP gods spared him from more than the one base hit.
His short stride does leave him in good fielding position, at least.