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Daniel Murphy 2017 Outlook


fawkes_mulder
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Tough player to pin down.

 

He's always been a solid batter, but starting in the 2015 post-season, he turned in Daniel "the great bambino" Murphy, slashing .345 / .390 / .764 (1.153 OPS) over 64 plate appearances. He also thrived in the 2016 NLDS, slashing .438 / .545. / 438 (.983 OPS) over another 22 plate appearances.

 

His total postseason stats over 2015 and 2016 include 16 runs, 7 HR, 17 RBI, and 3 SB over a total of 86 PA.

 

This is not to mention, of course, the excellent regular season he had in 2016, slashing 88 runs / 25 HR / 104 rbi / 5 sb / .347 /.390 / .595 (.985) over 582 PA and 142 games.

 

He missed some time with injury to end the year, but will be healthy entering 2017.

 

NOW -- this is a bit of an interesting exercise, but I expect Murph to get more than 582 PA in 2017. He's generally been an iron man, and has gotten 612, 697, and 642 PA in three successive years prior to minor trips to the DL in 2015 and 2016.

 

This is the mind boggling stat. If you add Daniel Murphy's playoff stats in 2015 and 2016 to his 2016 regular season stats, it equates to a true full season of "the new Daniel Murphy"

 

161 Games, 668 PA, 104 runs / 32 HR / 121 RBI / 8 SB with an OPS over 1.000...

 

Now, am I projecting that line for 2017? No. But I don't see any reason why he can't come close. He strikes out less than 10% of the time while still hitting for power now...that's remarkable. I still think he will hit 20+ HR with HR up around the league, with a good shot at 25+ again.

 

Murph is kinda a superstar now. Anyways, I just drafted him #29 overall in the rotoworld mock, and it feels like good value. 

 

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Where is everyone else with Murph? I was hoping to get some thoughts but this thread has been crickets so far haha.

 

More or less valuable than Jake Arrieta? (I say this as someone who traded Arrieta for Murph + Familia in dynasty, cats in sig).

 

Do people believe? Career BABIP .319 vs. .348. So if regression hits, will it be only marginal and he can still provide good value?

 

Is the HR outburst since the middle of 2015, and especially that postseason, a mirage or a change in the type of player Murphy is?

 

He had a career high FB% of 41.9% last year...only 12.4% hr/fb. 

 

I'm inclined to believe he's taken strides as a player and is legitimately hitting for more power now. looks at flyball distances.

 

2016 avg flyball distance 280.63 ft

2015 avg flyball distance 278.46 ft

2014 avg flyball distance 267.52 ft

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Final Projection:

 

155 Games, 660 PA, 94 runs / 27 HR / 109 RBI / 4 SB / .321 / .382 / .519 (.901 OPS)

 

Yes, I'm hype. I think the average comes down from last year but the OBP doesn't go down much because he pushes his walk rate up too. 

Edited by fawkes_mulder
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I believe in Murphy, but that feels kind of high to me. I've heard the upper leg issues might recur, so that makes me more conservative with games played (maybe 140), obviously hurting the counting stats. I could see more regression in the average as well. I agree with the power being legitimate, maybe 23-25 home runs. I'm pretty excited to see how he follows up last year. Hopefully with a campaign where he's healthy for the fantasy playoffs.

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yeah, i pretty much think it's real. i mean every player can go up or down in any given year, and if he gets a nagging injury or slumps next year everyone will call you a sucker for buying in. but established stars have off years too. i think he really did bump his power up, and he's always been pretty good at everything else. (except defense lol)

 

 

 

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Well I predicted that he was for real and going to have a great season at the start of 2016.  So there's no chance after a season like 2016, that i would predict serious regression in 2017.  I remember the guy made a change in his batting stance in Aug 2015 and that is where the fun began.

 

The key is how to acquire him.  Since a lot of people assume he had a career year, it might be ok to wait until the third round in a snake draft but I could easily see someone grabbing him a little aggressively.

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When a player has a major spike or decline in some peripheral stat (for example, SwStr% or exit velocity), I like to examine WHERE the spike is coming. Is a pitcher getting a bit more whiffs across the board, or is one pitch in particular enjoying a massive spike? Is the spike against batters of a particular handedness?

So for Murphy, I started looking for where the exit velocity spike is coming. I found it:

WQrsmQo.jpg

(For clarification, offspeed consists of changeups, splitters and screwballls)

In 2015, he slugged .274 against offspeed pitches. In 2016, he slugged .475. That's nearly a 200 point increase!

To give you an idea of what that looks like, here's what Baseball Savant calls "pitch charts" against offspeed pitches from 2015 and from 2016, color coded by exit velocity:

2015:

EURKvbx.jpg

2016:

oeWrwzx.jpg

That may not look like a huge difference, but it shows how he was more able to drive offspeed pitches in different locations that he couldn't in 2015.

In 2015, Murphy had the 14th worst run value against changeups (which make up the majority of pitches in the "offspeed" category). In 2016, he was 36th best.

Hitters figuring out how to drive a new pitch type is my second favorite change a hitter can make, behind a swing change. I'm not sure what's behind his newfound ability to drive offspeed pitches, but I am sure that his newfound ability to drive offspeed pitches is behind his breakout.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/9/2017 at 3:42 AM, mysonx3 said:

When a player has a major spike or decline in some peripheral stat (for example, SwStr% or exit velocity), I like to examine WHERE the spike is coming. Is a pitcher getting a bit more whiffs across the board, or is one pitch in particular enjoying a massive spike? Is the spike against batters of a particular handedness?

So for Murphy, I started looking for where the exit velocity spike is coming. I found it:

WQrsmQo.jpg

(For clarification, offspeed consists of changeups, splitters and screwballls)

In 2015, he slugged .274 against offspeed pitches. In 2016, he slugged .475. That's nearly a 200 point increase!

To give you an idea of what that looks like, here's what Baseball Savant calls "pitch charts" against offspeed pitches from 2015 and from 2016, color coded by exit velocity:

2015:

EURKvbx.jpg

2016:

oeWrwzx.jpg

That may not look like a huge difference, but it shows how he was more able to drive offspeed pitches in different locations that he couldn't in 2015.

In 2015, Murphy had the 14th worst run value against changeups (which make up the majority of pitches in the "offspeed" category). In 2016, he was 36th best.

Hitters figuring out how to drive a new pitch type is my second favorite change a hitter can make, behind a swing change. I'm not sure what's behind his newfound ability to drive offspeed pitches, but I am sure that his newfound ability to drive offspeed pitches is behind his breakout.

 

Excellent post, man. 

Don't sleep on Murphy. It was just a 1 year breaking out. Look at post all star break of 2015, and compare that to his 2016. Dude has figured it out. Has always been able to put the bat on the ball, but now he's just slugging it. I got the chance to meet him (friends with family), and got to talk about it. His hitting coach (not sure which, now), observed how well he is at putting the bat on the ball, and started training to not just square the ball up, but really work on driving it. Been 1.5 seasons of stud production. He's my #2 2B off the board, after Altuve. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jan 25, 2017 Article by Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs) re: Murphy's breakout

 

Quote

One of the criticisms we get most often is that we sometimes overreact to small sample sizes. It’s true that we do, and it’s true that we probably shouldn’t, given how hard analysts have worked over the years to caution people against that very act. I can tell you this much: Our intentions are always good. And I can also tell you this: Players like Daniel Murphy are why we can’t stop.

Everyone wants to be first to see the breakout, and in the 2015 playoffs, if you’ll remember, Murphy homered seven times in 14 games. We can only identify that as a breakout in hindsight, but that streak sent everyone to the video. There was a search for a reason, a search for understanding, and that’s when the world learned of Murphy’s work with Kevin Long. The Nationals subsequently took the chance on Daniel Murphy, Quality Hitter.

Look, you’ve read about Murphy already. You know what he did. But do you really know what he did? They don’t make many players like this. There don’t exist many seasons like that. It’s really quite extraordinary.

 

One thing has always been true of Murphy: He’s been good at making contact. Quite good, as a matter of fact. A simple plot:

murphy-strikeouts.png

Nothing complicated there. Murphy struck out around an average clip as a rookie, but since then, he’s far more regularly put the ball in play. Strikeout rate is easy, but contact rate further supports the facts here. Over the PITCHf/x era, more than 500 different batters have come up at least 1,000 times. Murphy owns a top-40 contact rate, sandwiched between Nick Markakis and Angel Pagan. As strikeouts go, you’ve heard they’re at an all-time high. Murphy, the last two years, has maintained a strikeout rate in the single digits.

This is what’s new:

murphy-power.png

Through 2015, Murphy ran the same isolated power as — well, coincidentally, Justin Turner. But he was also right there with Martin Prado. The power, overall, was well worse than average. And then last year, Murphy’s ISO was in the top 20, incredibly above those posted by Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. Daniel Murphy finished with more home runs than teammate Bryce Harper. He finished with more home runs than any of his teammates.

I know this is old news, more or less. You already realized that Murphy broke out. You knew that Murphy could make contact, and you knew that Murphy started hitting for extra power. You also probably knew that Murphy’s in his 30s! The reason I’m bringing this up again is, despite it all, perhaps you still don’t see this for what it is. Murphy, last season, remained an extreme contact hitter. At the same time, he became something of an extreme power hitter. We’ve seen no shortage of players who’ve sold out for more dingers, but Murphy’s blend was most unusual. Few players have ever done quite what he did.

I looked at every qualified batter season since 1910. There are almost 12,000 of them. I concentrated on strikeout rate and isolated power, and for every single year, I calculated the league’s standard deviation. That allowed me to calculate, for every qualified batter season, a pair of z-scores. You’re smart, so you get it already, so here’s a plot, with Daniel Murphy’s 2016 season highlighted in red.

power-strikeouts-1910.png

You see Murphy way over there on an edge. Contact hitters are on the left side of the x-axis, while power hitters are on the upper side of the y-axis. Murphy’s strikeout rate was 2.1 standard deviations lower than the average. Meanwhile, his isolated power was 1.6 standard deviations higher than the average. For reference, there are 180 seasons in the sample with strikeout-rate z-scores no greater than -2. The average of all those yields an isolated-power z-score of -0.5. Unsurprisingly, the most extreme contact hitters in history have hit for below-average power. We all understand that. This is how Murphy’s season was exceptional.

I decided to set a cutoff at -2, for the strikeout-rate z-score. Once I had all the most extreme contact hitters, I then sorted those player-seasons by the power score. Here’s the top 10!

 
Best Power from Contact Hitters
Player Season K%, z-score ISO, z-score
Victor Martinez 2014 -2.4 1.9
Tris Speaker 1917 -2.1 1.8
Daniel Murphy 2016 -2.1 1.6
Joe Jackson 1919 -2.0 1.5
Tris Speaker 1918 -2.1 1.5
George Brett 1977 -2.1 1.4
Nomar Garciaparra 1999 -2.0 1.2
Tris Speaker 1916 -2.0 1.0
Lou Boudreau 1948 -2.3 0.9
Tommy Holmes 1944 -2.3 0.9
Out of all qualified hitters from 1910 – 2016. Above shows top-10 ISO z-scores from players with K% z-scores of at least -2.

Right there is your helpful historical perspective. It’s not that Murphy’s season was necessarily unprecedented. There’s been so much baseball, and plenty of weird things have taken place. Why, as recently as 2014, Victor Martinez was a better contact hitter than Murphy, and a better power hitter than Murphy. But Murphy’s season is still third on this list. It’s one of just eight seasons with an isolated-power z-score of at least +1. Tris Speaker was responsible for three of those eight seasons, all in a row, all before 1920. You’ve got Martinez, you’ve got George Brett, you’ve got Nomar Garciaparra, and then you’re basically out of recent comparables.

Michael Brantley is around, too, and so is the most recent version of Jose Altuve. I shouldn’t cut them off just because they didn’t make the table. But Altuve’s ISO z-score was 0.6. Brantley has topped out at 0.8. Murphy was just twice that high, relative to the average. His season was a freak-season, and the fact that it suddenly happened at the age of 31 makes it all the more bizarre. Murphy’s transition has probably been underrated in its degree of unpredictability. He’s hit for more power, and he’s lost nothing.

How much it’ll keep up, I have no idea. Neither does Murphy, and neither do the Nationals. Martinez stopped hitting for that power, but he also got hurt, and turned 36. Brett eventually made the Hall of Fame. Garciaparra remained amazing until he wasn’t. The only thing we can say for sure is that the Nationals feel a lot better about Murphy today than they did when they signed him. It’s not often a player gets to improve after his 30th birthday, but Murphy’s an exception, having turned into one of the game’s rarest assets. That small sample, it turns out, had real substance after all.

 

My takeaway is -- if it sticks, we've got a modern iteration of prime Nomar Garciappara's offense...which would make me very happy.

Edited by fawkes_mulder
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Take this for what it's worth, but I know him/the family, and got to ask him about the outburst. It was really cool. In a nutshell, hitting coach identified he's very good at making hard contact, and contact in general when he swings. Worked on compromising some hitting ability to really drive the ball. Funny thing though, he instead started driving the ball without losing points off the BA. I'm a believer in his ability, just hope the guy can stay healthy. Super nice guy. 

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On ‎1‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 2:42 AM, mysonx3 said:

When a player has a major spike or decline in some peripheral stat (for example, SwStr% or exit velocity), I like to examine WHERE the spike is coming. Is a pitcher getting a bit more whiffs across the board, or is one pitch in particular enjoying a massive spike? Is the spike against batters of a particular handedness?

So for Murphy, I started looking for where the exit velocity spike is coming. I found it:

WQrsmQo.jpg

 

 

Idk... not sure I can see the change.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was convinced he was legitimatedly improved after the 2015 postseason. People called it a fluke that but playoff baseball is against some of the best pitchers, he homered off Kershaw twice and is a lefty! That's no fluke!

 

I remember hearing so many people saying "but he's still Daniel Murphy" after the 2015 postseason. No he wasn't. He changed his swing like I'd read last offseason to drive the ball much more and "do damage":

http://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/baseball/news/2017-fantasy-baseball-draft-strategy-can-we-trust-daniel-murphys-breakthrough/

 

So I grabbed him all over and loved the guy. Now he seems to be going where I'd expect him to. I think only missed games and a tough lefty park is holding him from a 30HR season. But of course he's not really going to provide much value now but should be a safe round 3/$25 option still worth considering.

Edited by swfcdan
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On 1/7/2017 at 6:09 PM, fawkes_mulder said:

This is the mind boggling stat. If you add Daniel Murphy's playoff stats in 2015 and 2016 to his 2016 regular season stats, it equates to a true full season of "the new Daniel Murphy"

 

161 Games, 668 PA, 104 runs / 32 HR / 121 RBI / 8 SB with an OPS over 1.000...

 

 

 

Love that stat. Not expecting it obviously, but good work.

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He's currently projected to hit about 15-18 HR, .310 - .320 AVG, and an .845 - .870 OPS. The handful of stolen bases is just icing on the cake. He's currently ranked at #42 on Yahoo. I'd have no issues taking him in the third round. The fact that he basically never strikes out makes him fantasy gold, especially in points leagues.

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On 2/8/2017 at 6:49 AM, fawkes_mulder said:

Jan 25, 2017 Article by Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs) re: Murphy's breakout

 

 

My takeaway is -- if it sticks, we've got a modern iteration of prime Nomar Garciappara's offense...which would make me very happy.

Sorry for the post barrage but that's a fantastic article, thanks for posting. I knew he's was in rarefied air with his low K% and high ISO , but I didn't realise it was historically good.

 

Didn't realise the top 2 players in 2016 SLG% either, not Trout, Arenado etc but: Ortiz .620 (insanity) and Murphy .595

 

OPS leaders were: Ortiz (again) 1.021, Trout .991, and Murphy .985

 

He's looking more like 2nd round material to me.

 

This fantastic chart (posted in fangraphs comments of that post) needs more views too. Shows all the leaders since 1970:

http://alexboisvert.com/baseball/iso_k/

Edited by swfcdan
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On Monday, January 09, 2017 at 0:42 AM, mysonx3 said:

When a player has a major spike or decline in some peripheral stat (for example, SwStr% or exit velocity), I like to examine WHERE the spike is coming. Is a pitcher getting a bit more whiffs across the board, or is one pitch in particular enjoying a massive spike? Is the spike against batters of a particular handedness?

So for Murphy, I started looking for where the exit velocity spike is coming. I found it:

WQrsmQo.jpg

(For clarification, offspeed consists of changeups, splitters and screwballls)

In 2015, he slugged .274 against offspeed pitches. In 2016, he slugged .475. That's nearly a 200 point increase!

To give you an idea of what that looks like, here's what Baseball Savant calls "pitch charts" against offspeed pitches from 2015 and from 2016, color coded by exit velocity:

2015:

EURKvbx.jpg

2016:

oeWrwzx.jpg

That may not look like a huge difference, but it shows how he was more able to drive offspeed pitches in different locations that he couldn't in 2015.

In 2015, Murphy had the 14th worst run value against changeups (which make up the majority of pitches in the "offspeed" category). In 2016, he was 36th best.

Hitters figuring out how to drive a new pitch type is my second favorite change a hitter can make, behind a swing change. I'm not sure what's behind his newfound ability to drive offspeed pitches, but I am sure that his newfound ability to drive offspeed pitches is behind his breakout.

 

It'd be interesting to see his fastball spray chart during this change in power vs offspeed pitches.

 

I'm guessing that he's going the other way or two center a bit more vs fastballs.

 

Why?   The idea is that if you're willing to wait and stay back on the fastball  (which would result in more opposite field contact vs fastballs) you're hands and body will be in better position vs change ups and splits to drive the ball out of the park.

 

Note that his slugging vs breaking balls and fastballs is flat.   Big picture concept:

 

- vs breaking balls stay back and hit it where it's pitched

- vs fastballs stay back and be willing to go up the middle and opp

- when you see a change up let it fly

 

The pitching counter to Murphy's new approach is to bust him inside with fastballs to try and make him conscious of them and not allow him to stay back as well.   Then when/if you throw the change up make sure it stays outer half and away.  Easier said than done.

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On 2/18/2017 at 0:19 PM, 96mnc said:

 

It'd be interesting to see his fastball spray chart during this change in power vs offspeed pitches.

 

I'm guessing that he's going the other way or two center a bit more vs fastballs.

 

Why?   The idea is that if you're willing to wait and stay back on the fastball  (which would result in more opposite field contact vs fastballs) you're hands and body will be in better position vs change ups and splits to drive the ball out of the park.

 

Note that his slugging vs breaking balls and fastballs is flat.   Big picture concept:

 

- vs breaking balls stay back and hit it where it's pitched

- vs fastballs stay back and be willing to go up the middle and opp

- when you see a change up let it fly

 

The pitching counter to Murphy's new approach is to bust him inside with fastballs to try and make him conscious of them and not allow him to stay back as well.   Then when/if you throw the change up make sure it stays outer half and away.  Easier said than done.

I had the same thought, but his average spray angle against fastballs stayed almost exactly the same from 2015 to 2016 (although that was 8° farther toward left field than in 2014 or prior, so perhaps it was an approach change that occured in 2015 that didn't start reaping the benefits in terms of authority vs offspeed pitches until 2016)

 

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20 hours ago, mysonx3 said:

I had the same thought, but his average spray angle against fastballs stayed almost exactly the same from 2015 to 2016 (although that was 8° farther toward left field than in 2014 or prior, so perhaps it was an approach change that occured in 2015 that didn't start reaping the benefits in terms of authority vs offspeed pitches until 2016)

 

 

I'd lean towards the latter.  And it jibes with what he's said about changing his approach time-line wise.

 

2015 - learned/started to stay back more on fastballs and using left field.  Late in 2015/post season decided to let it fly on change ups/splits once he realized that/knew that two strikes didn't matter anymore because he had complete plate coverage on outer half. Then carried new approach into 2016.

 

This general approach/philosophy is why I expected Moose to break out last year.   In 2015 he mastered using the opposite field and built confidence in having outer half plate coverage.  With the knowledge that he then wasn't as vulnerable with two strikes he could afford to be more aggressive earlier in counts and let his power swing fly.

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