Dale Murphy - 1986 Topps

Dale Murphy’s Hall of Fame case warrants only two pages

45 Comments

On Monday, we learned of a 12-page brochure supporting Juan Gonzalez’s Hall of Fame candidacy that’s currently making the rounds.

As it turns out, the pitch for fellow two-time MVP Dale Murphy is a bit lighter. Longtime Braves GM John Schuerholz sent out a letter to voters appealing for Murphy that started with a personal note and followed with two pages of facts supporting his case.

Murphy, who picked up 12.6 percent of the vote last year, is on his next-to-last year on the ballot. There’s no chance at all that he’ll be elected by the BBWAA before his 15 years are up in the next cycle, but there is a case for Murphy as a peak candidate. Mike Schmidt was the only National Leaguer more valuable than Murphy in a six-year span from 1982-87. Murphy led the NL in homers twice, RBI twice, slugging twice and OPS once. During his six-year peak, he played in 162 games four times and 160 and 159 games in the other seasons.

Unfortunately, Murphy pretty much fell off a cliff at age 32. His OPS+ stood at 132 through age 31. After that, he came in at 96 in six seasons. Unable to stay healthy, he retired at age 37 still two homers short of 400.

With a more graceful decline, Murphy likely would be a Hall of Famer. There’s certainly a good argument that he was a better player at his peak than recent electees Andre Dawson and Jim Rice. Plus, Murphy was perhaps the sport’s ultimate good guy of his era and more than a few younger sportswriters grew up watching his Braves teams on TBS. There are certainly plenty of people who would love to vote for him if only his numbers were a little better.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
2 Comments

Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
2 Comments

Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.