Colorado Rockies anniversary: Impact of Daniel Murphy’s avulsion fracture

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Daniel Murphy #9 of the Colorado Rockies fields a ground ball against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park on June 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Daniel Murphy #9 of the Colorado Rockies fields a ground ball against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park on June 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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One year ago today, Colorado Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy suffered an avulsion fracture on the index finger of his left hand. The injury changed the season for the Rockies.

In the second game of the 2019 season as the Colorado Rockies were on their way to defeating the Miami Marlins in south Florida, Daniel Murphy fractured his finger of his glove hand while making a backhanded grab of a grounder hit by Marlins pitcher Brian Anderson. He remained in the game but, by the next day, Murphy was out of the lineup and on his way to the 10-day injured list.

The veteran infielder would return from the injury on April 22. After telling reporters (including me) in Miami that he wouldn’t put a timetable on his return but, “When I’m back in the lineup, I’m healthy,” it was quickly realized that Murphy wasn’t 100 percent when he returned.

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Murphy’s batting average would drop all the way to .171 after an 0-for-4 performance at Philadelphia on May 19. However, it would start to climb from there and the the 34-year-old would finish the season with a .279/.328/.452 slash line with 13 home runs and 78 RBI. His career batting average prior to signing with the Rockies was .298.

There is no question that Murphy’s injury and subsequent issues were key pieces of Colorado’s overall struggle last season as the team finished 20 games below .500. Brought in to further weaponize the Rockies lineup as well as hopefully boost the first base position (the Rockies had the lowest offensive production from first base in MLB in 2018, measured by wRC+), Murphy’s injury kept him from fully doing either. His defense at first base was also a talking point during and after the season as the Rockies once again looked to find an answer at first.

Even Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich said Murphy’s overall season was “all the way around, was just OK.” For Colorado’s biggest free agent acquisition prior to the 2019 campaign and the player signed as fan favorite DJ LeMahieu inked a contract with the New York Yankees for the same amount of years and money, they were words that Rockies fans wholeheartedly agreed with on a disappointing level.

Expectations and hopes are that Murphy will have a better all-around season in 2020. That’s something the Rockies are counting on and need to have happen if they have a chance to greatly improve upon last year’s 71-91 mark.

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What will a healthy Murphy bring to the Rockies for a full season (or as full as it can be in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic)? Colorado fans are hoping to have the answer to that question whenever the 2020 campaign finally begins.

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