There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Nelson Cruz hamstring injuries. The Texas slugger missed 54 games in 2010 and was on the DL three separate times thanks to his hamstrings. He even tried incorporating a new running style this season, one where he would focus on being more upright, to try and lessen the impact on his hammys. Apparently that hasn’t worked as he went on the DL August 29th. The Rangers have never been short on outfielders, and David Murphy has made the most of the increased playing this he’s received.
He’s never been a particularly “good” outfielder; his career line of .278/.339/.444 isn’t impressive considering his position. For a corner outfielder he possesses little power – his 17 home runs in 2009 are his career high. In fact, his ISO has gone down in each of the past four seasons, starting at respectable .210 in 2007 and falling to just .113 this season which puts him in the company of Alex Gonzalez and Maicer Izturis. Casey Kotchman has more power for crying out loud. His nine game hit streak came to an end Monday, but in those games he went 17-37 with three home runs and 12 RBI and two steals. Since Cruz went down he’s picked up six RBI in the past seven games. He’s hitting in the 6-8 spots in the Texas order, but that’s no slight. They’re top five of Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre is very good, and that’s without mentioning Mike Napoli. Batting that low in the order is still providing Murphy with ample RBI opportunities.
He’s owned in just 26 percent of leagues. In most standard leagues you should already have a bench outfielder that compares to, or is better than Murphy. He’s best play is in deeper or AL only leagues where his production will be counted on more in Cruz’s absence. Some other players to consider picking up in place of Cruz are Kosuke Fukudome and Alejandro De Aza. They’re each owned in less than five percent of leagues. Fukudome has hit .345 with two homers and seven RBI over the past two weeks while De Aza has been the 21st best outfielder over that same time period, hitting .297 with three homers, eight RBI and three steals. Then there’s Mike Trout, the highly touted prospect who is owned in just 17 percent of leagues but is being given his share of at bats as we head toward the finish. He’s only hit .345 with three home runs and seven RBI as a 19-year-old. Nothing special.
Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.