Colorado Rockies rumors: What these players would bring to the team
By Ryan Ladika
Murphy has spent most of his career as a second baseman, but defensive metrics like him better at first base. Murphy had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of -0.5 and -1 DRS (defensive runs saved) in 83.2 innings at first base with Washington in 2018. He was a little bit worse than league-average in both categories (0 for UZR and DRS), but better than Desmond’s -2.5 UZR and -6 DRS.
Fangraphs also reports revised zone rating (RZR). It “measures the proportion of balls hit into a fielder’s zone that he successfully converted into an out.” (Hardball Times via Fangraphs). The site notes .835 as league-average. Murphy’s RZR at first base was below-average at an even .800, but still better than Desmond’s .739.
Murphy did need knee surgery over 2017-18 offseason and missed 63 games for the Nationals in 2018 before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, according to a sportingnews.com report, which is cause for concern. If he were to permanently switch to first base, though, the stability at a less mobile position could do wonders for his health and defensive production.
Murphy’s real upside lies in his offense. He was a 0.8-win player in 2018, with a wRC+ of 110, better than league-average. He had an OPS+ of 108, and slashed .299/.336/.454. Compare that to Desmond’s -0.7 fWAR, 81 wRC+, 83 OPS+ and .236/.307/.422 slashline, and one can see Murphy is clearly the better offensive talent.
Desmond’s ground-ball tendencies are well-documented as well. He hit the ball on the ground 61.6 percent of the time in 2018 according to baseballsavant.com. Murphy? 35.4 percent. That fact alone is key to why Murphy experiences more offensive success than Desmond, and why he would fare even better a mile above sea level with Coors Field’s spacious outfield.
Murphy wouldn’t come without controversy, though. He has been very outspoken about his Christian faith, including his views on homosexual marriage. From an NBC Sports Chicago article, his exact quote regarding openly-gay former player Billy Bean, MLB’s Ambassador for Inclusion:
"“I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I still can’t invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”"
If the Rockies were to go in this direction, they would have to weigh their options carefully. Murphy’s talent is undeniable, and would go a long way in aiding an offensively-challenged club. But is the front office able to get past his comments and beliefs that have created significant division between those who agree with his values and those who don’t? Only Bridich has the answer.