FanPost

Jesus or Murphy?

Dave Sandford

On October 30, 2009, the Blue Jays announced that Dwayne Murphy would move from First Base Coach to hitting coach.

We have all heard how Murphy made Jose Bautista into the hitter he is today. Turning a mediocre journeyman into one of the best power hitters in the game. Let's take a rudimentary look at what effect Murphy may have had on two other hitters. Both of these players were young, line drive hitters who hit the ball to all fields and were entering what is typically, the prime years of their careers. Both of these players came off monster years at the plate. And now, let's enjoy some stats:

Aaron Hill

Year  AGE  PA   HR  AVG.  OBP. SLG. OPS. OPS+ oWAR
2005  23   407   3    .274   .342  .385  .727  92     1.3
2006  24   606   6    .291   .349  .386  .735  91     2.6
2007  25   657   17   .291  .333  .459  .792  107    2.9
2008  26   229   2    .263   .324  .361  .685  85     0.6
2009  27   734   36   .286  .330  .499  .829  114    4.5

Note that in 2008, Hill played 2 months and then missed the remainder of the season due to injury. In 2009, Hill had a career year, and received many subjective accolades as well, playing in the All-Star game, receiving a Silver Slugger and winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. He was also 12th in the AL MVP voting. Despite a career year that likely wouldn't be duplicated, it was reasonable to expect an OPS+ in the 95-100 range for the next few years.

Enter Murphy:

YEAR  AGE  PA  HR  AVG.  OBP.  SLG.  OPS.  OPS+  oWAR
2010   28   580  26  .205   .271   .394   .665   78      1.2
2011   29   429   8  .246   .299   .356   .655   77      -0.4

On August 23, 2011 Hill was traded to Arizona, thus only the Toronto numbers are shown above. The change was immediate.

Exit Murphy:

YEAR  AGE  PA  HR  AVG.  OBP.  SLG.  OPS.  OPS+ oWAR
2011   29   142  2   .315   .386   .492   .878   137    1.1
2012   30   668  26 .302    .360   .522   .882   133    4.8
2013   31    42   2  .306    .405   .556   .960   159    0.5

The numbers speak for themselves and the difference is astronomical. In 2012, Hill won the NL Silver Slugger award, was 8th in the league in oWAR and hit for the cycle twice in one month.

Career OPS under Murphy: .629

Career OPS under all other hitting coaches: .797

But Hill was only coached by Murphy for 1 and a half seasons, so perhaps the down years were a fluke. If only we could find a similar hitter who had more plate appearances under Murphy.

Adam Lind

Year  AGE  PA  HR  AVG.  OBP.  SLG.  OPS.  OPS+ oWAR
2006   22    65   2  .367   .415   .600   1.015 159    0.5
2007   23   311  11 .238   .278   .400    .678   77   -0.1
2008   24   349   9  .282   .316   .439   .755   101   1.0
2009   25   654  35  .305  .370   .562   .932   141    4.5

2006-2008 brought mixed results which is not surprising for his age, lack of regular playing time and bouncing around between AAA and the Majors. In May 2008, Lind was sent down to AAA after going 1 for 19. After getting called back up in June he seemed to put it together, finishing with the respectable numbers you see above. As we all know, 2009 was a great year, as he finished in the top 10 in many offensive categories including HR, OPS, 2B, TB, SLG and RBI which earned him a Silver Slugger and a 15th place finish in the MVP voting. At only 25 years old, it was not unreasonable to expect an OPS+ over 100 for the next few years.

Enter Murphy:

YEAR  AGE  PA  HR  AVG.  OBP.  SLG.  OPS.  OPS+  oWAR
2010   26   613  23  .237   .287   .425  .712    90      -0.4
2011   27   542  26  .251   .295   .439  .734    95       0.6
2012   28   353  11  .255   .314   .414  .729    97       0.2

On July 25, 2012 Lind had an OPS of .692 and was sent down to AAA to work with then LV hitting coach Chad Mottola. Upon his return a month later, he seemed to show some improvement finishing with the numbers seen above.

Exit Murphy, stage right.

This offseason, amidst the coaching shuffle, the Jays moved the man who created a monster slugger, to First Base Coach and replaced him with Mottola. The results, though perhaps not sustainable, were immediate:

YEAR AGE  PA  HR  AVG. OBP. SLG. OPS. OPS+ oWAR
2013  29   189  6   .344  .418  .540  .958  159    1.7

Career OPS under Murphy: .724

Career OPS under all other hitting coaches: .848

So, do you think Dwayne Murphy had some negative effect on these two hitters? Was his "pull everything" approach detrimental to certain types of hitters. Or are there other possible explanations? What do you think the hitting coaches influence was with other hitters. Travis Snyder? Lyle Overbay? I invite your responses.

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