As a longtime Daniel Murphy fan, it was great fun to see that he’s signed a contract with the Long Island Ducks, where he’ll play with Ruben Tejada and be managed by Wally Backman. Murphy sounds like he wants another shot at the majors. While I wouldn’t bet on that happening, it’s fun to think about. Injuries kept him from having a longer career. He’ll turn 38 on April 1.
Of course, Murphy is the blueprint for what I hope will happen with Jeff McNeil. Murphy used to be content to flick the ball the other way for a single. And then he learned to turn on the ball and upped his OPS+ by 40 points. If only he didn’t wait until the tail-end of his age-30 season to make the transformation.
McNeil will be in his age-31 season in 2023. He’s a better overall player than Murphy was before the power surge. My opinion is that he would be a better player than Murphy if he turned on the ball more, too. Murphy had a .595 SLG in 2016, a season in which he set his personal best with a .348 BABIP, 30 points above his career mark in the category. McNeil had a .353 BABIP last year and has a lifetime .332 mark. He has a higher base than Murphy. Just imagine if he had an ISO in the ballpark of Murphy’s .249 in 2016, rather than the .128 ISO he had in 2022.