Out in Right Field

January 2, 2014

It wasn’t exactly earth-shattering news when the Indians signed outfielder David Murphy. Instead of seeing Paul Hoynes or Jordan Bastian breaking the news about Murphy on Twitter, the beans were spilled by Murphy’s five-year-old daughter at her preschool. So yeah, cute story, but the deal left some fans wishing the Tribe had landed a bigger bat (especially a right-handed one). Murphy can play all three outfield positions, but since there isn’t any real reason to mess with the Michaels in center and left, the logical assumption is that we’ll see Murphy primarily in right field. With no ill will wishes to Drew Stubbs, I’m glad we traded him, because I’m kind of excited about the prospect of a David Murphy-Ryan Raburn platoon in right field.

Murphy hits left, and, yes, the lineup is already overloaded with lefties. However, Murphy has a career .280/.347/.469 line vs. right-handed pitchers.  Last season, only Michael Brantley had a higher average against right-handers (in more than 10 at bats). Overall, the Indians were 11th in the AL last season against right-handed pitchers (.247/.320/.402). It’d be nice to bring that average up a bit.

On the other side of the plate is Ryan Raburn, one of the few natural righties in the line-up. He has a career .263/.336/.492 line vs. left-handed pitchers. Defensively, with a .964 fielding percentage in right field over 5 seasons (168) Raburn is about even with the departed Drew Stubbs (who had a .965 fielding average for Cleveland in his one season in right). But look, here comes David Murphy with a .993 fielding average in the same position. Give Murphy the every day work, put Raburn in against left-handed starters, and things look pretty happy out in right field.  Now if we could just do something about Lonnie Chisenhall and third base…