Monday, April 11, 2011

Familiar Faces / Strange Places: Dale Murphy / Phillies

If you had asked any baseball fan in 1986 if Dale Murphy was a "hall of famer" -- you would have gotten an near unanimous "YES". He was a baseball superstar with the then lowly Atlanta Braves, and had won consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Awards (1982–1983), the National League's Silver Slugger Award four straight years (1982–1985), and the National League's Gold Glove award five straight years (1982–1986). He was also a seven time NL all star.

Playing in the decade before Atlanta started their amazing string of playoff appearances, Murphy made his only postseason appearance in 1982 when his Braves lost to the Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series.

In 1988, for some reason, his production started to slide. His average dropped to a below replacement player level and his signature power numbers had fallen off also. In 1990, after fifteen seasons in the Braves organization, they traded him to the Phillies. He played the rest of the 1990 and the 1991-92 seasons in Philadelphia, but by that point he was just a shell of his former MVP self. He went on to suit up for the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993, but only got 42 at bats. Despite playing home games in Denver, he hit no home runs. He was retired by the end of May.

Murphy was one of the most productive and decorated players of the 1980s. His numbers have been dwarfed by the steroid era stats produced immediately after he retired, but in his prime, there was no one better. In the end, he finished his career with 398 home runs (19th in MLB history at the time of his retirement) and a .265 lifetime batting average. His MVP awards in 1982 and 1983 make him one of only four outfielders in major league history with consecutive MVP years. He and Roger Maris are the only eligible players with multiple MVP awards not enshrined in Cooperstown as has never received more than 23% of the vote (75% required for election)


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