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

Nov 16, 2011, 11:00 PM EDT

Dale Murphy - 1986 Topps

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.

  1. chew1985 - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    The Phillies released Murph in spring training 1993. Had he just lasted a bit longer he could have been on that 1993 World Series team and that would have really helped his bid for the Hall. His last couple years for the Phillies were hard to watch–he was a .250/25 HR guy at best. But I love him anyway and am proud my baseball card collection contains Dale Murphy in Phillies pinstripes along with his Braves years. A true gentleman and hero in a baseball uniform. How many have we seen since he left the game?

    • jimbo75025 - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:21 AM

      Most of his years in Atlanta were hard to watch-not because of him though. Those 1984-1989 Braves teams were pretty heinous and finished either last or close to it. I still remember going to some late fall games at old Fulton County Stadium and the paid attendance was only a few thousand.

      Kind of shocked he has not garnered more support though-in those days the Braves on TBS and Cubs on WGN were the only MLB you could see every day on cable nationwide and Murphy was the only standout on some really bad teams. Would have liked to see what his numbers could have been in some of those years had teams not been able to pitch around him without much fear of anyone else in the lineup as Bob Horner was injured most of the time. .

  2. missthemexpos - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    2 pages for Murphy, 12 pages for Gonzalez. Proves the old adage that sometimes less is more.

    • paperlions - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:18 AM

      It also is consistent with the concept that if you have to argue that hard and long….then the guy isn’t a HOFer.

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:42 AM

        I’m sure Jeter won’t need a brochure, he’ll just send a link to his Baseball Reference stats web page….

  3. jjschiller - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    When discussing Murphy, you should probably mention that until his age 31 season, his two primary positions were catcher, and centerfield.

    A little positional scarcity when compared to Rice and Dawson..

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:40 AM

      Dawson was a center fielder in the first half of his career.
      Though I wouldn’t have put Dawson in the hall, he had a better case than Rice. He was still hitting 20+ homers a year until age 37 and was a great defensive player in the 1st half of his career.

      Career bWAR:
      Dawson: 57
      Murphy: 44.2
      Rice: 41.5

    • mabunar - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:47 AM

      He was done catching by his fourth season never catching more than 27 in a season.

      CF yes, but C not so much.

      • mabunar - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        And not trying to knock Murphy, I’d like him in HOF. Feels like if Winfield, Rice and Dawson are in…Murphy fits too.

        Using the basic stats, Rice and Murphy are fairly similar. Murphy had better speed and defense, but Rice had a little more gap power in general (Slug, 2bs and 3bs are in his favor) and a bit of a better hitter (better career avg, less Ks).

        Plate Appearances are Rice with 9058 and Murphy at 9040…so not a drastic difference of ‘opportunity’.

      • Detroit Michael - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:48 AM

        There are a sizeable number of outfielders whose objective career accomplishments equal or exceed Jim Rice’s accomplishments who are not in the Hall of Fame. If you use Jim Rice as the lower bound of who is worthy of being in the Hall of Fame, there are guys ahead of Dale Murphy in the line to be inducted.

      • mabunar - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:02 AM

        I’ll bite…can you name some? We’re talking late 70s-80s here.

        Kingman had more HRs but nothing to go with it.
        Foster overlapped some…but still has less HRs than Rice/Murphy, and lower Avg/Obp/Slg, OPS+.
        Dwight Evans was a great RF, but was def a notch or so below Rice/Murphy in hitting.

        By sizeable, I’d imagine you have like twenty candidates.

      • thefalcon123 - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        “Dwight Evans was a great RF, but was def a notch or so below Rice/Murphy in hitting.”

        Player A: .272/.370/.470, 127 OPS+
        Player B: .265/.346/.469, 121 OPS+
        Player C: .298/.352/.502, 128 OPS+

        Player A: 382 HR, 1384 RBI, 483 2B
        Player B: 398 HR, 1266 RBI, 350 2B
        Player C: 382 HR, 1451 RBI, 373 2B

        A is Dwight Evans, B is Murphy and C is Rice.
        I never had any clue why Dewey was so underrated. In the 80s, he drove in 100 runs 4 times, his 20 homers 9 times (30 3 times, and lead the league in the 1981 strike year with 22), OPS twice…..
        I think it may have just been perception. He wasn’t a great hitter early in his career, so when he became one, people just didn’t notice. I think Dewey has a better hall case than Rice or Murphy

      • ftbramwell - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:06 PM

        Are you really going to compare Murphy to Winfield? Seriously?

        Winfield blew Murphy away in the traditional statistics of BA and HR, and Winfield struck out (76.6 times per season) less than Murphy (97.1 times per season). And while Winfield didn’t walk as much as Murphy, if people had understood how important OPS was in the 1980s, Winfield probably could have altered his game to walk more and blow even further past Murphy in OBP. (Why do I think that? Because Winfield had 20 fewer strike outs per season than Murphy, suggesting he had a better eye and better bat control!) As it was, in the 1980s, you got paid for high average and lots of home runs, not for having a high OPS.

        (Oh, and for those who think WAR is a real stat, Winfield’s career WAR beats Murphy’s career WAR 59.7 to 44.2.)

  4. mtm1321 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    I feel for Murphy, he was a good player one of the best during the time he played. Though his light shined bright it had a short fuse. A true gentleman and hero in a baseball uniform. But, but though his numbers look good he just didn’t have the longevity which I’m sorry is important as well. The Hall of Fame is a special place and those that have entered have had to meet a certain standard while they played. Not everyone who played no matter how well they did or no matter for well they played for a certain amount of time can always meet the standard. Some are over-achievers and titans of the game others barely squeak by but they all have one thing in common and that is they met the standards that those who came before them have put in place.

    • jjschiller - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:17 AM

      Ever look at Sandy Koufax’s career?

      • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:29 AM

        Dale Murphy was no Sandy Koufax!

      • JBerardi - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:37 AM

        Yeah, well, he was no Jim Rice, either. I’d have no problems with Murphy in the hall.

      • thefalcon123 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:43 AM

        Yep. Did Murphy ever come close to dominating to the same degree Koufax did? No. Murphy was great in his prime, but Koufax was one of the best pitchers ever during his.

    • skids003 - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:22 AM

      I respectfully disagree. Just because he didn’t take roids and hit 60 HR’s when he was 38, I still think he deserves the Hall. He was just a good guy, and during a good stretch, he was about the 2nd best player in baseball a few years.

  5. tastybasslines - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:21 AM

    My dad used to take me to Dodger games as a kid, and back in the day, you could get into the stadium 3 hours before game time. I would bring my baseball cards and we could watch batting practice and warmups. When Atlanta came to town, I had my Dale Murphy cards ready to go and be signed (still have it) and asked him for his autograph. He was so nice to me. He spoke to me for about 5 minutes and really took an interest. It is a memory I will never forget – he left a lasting impression on me.

    Now, I have heard that Chris Carpenter has made his case for the HOF, especially with this last post season, but with his stats – they are no better than Murphy and I don’t necessarily agree that longevity should be one of the main deciding factors. He was a big star at the time…I guess out of sight, out of mind…

  6. Chris K - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    If Dale Murphy gets in, can Shawn Green play too?

    • jjschiller - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:15 AM

      How does Shawn Green compare to his contemporaries?

      How does Dale compare to his own?

      • paperlions - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:21 AM

        That’s the thing, Murphy’s best years were during a down time for offense, and his decline coincided with a number of factors that increased offense….so his peak numbers pale in comparison to those just a few years after, even though they were fantastic for the mid-80s. Same thing that is happening to Tim Raines.

    • mabunar - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      Because of when he played, I’d need to see about 200 more HRs.

      • paperlions - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        You obviously, don’t know when he played.

      • jjschiller - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:04 AM

        paperlions, I think mabunar’s comment is under the “can shawn green play too” string… meaning Green would need 200 more HR because of when he played.

      • paperlions - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:06 PM

        Oh…my bad…this hierarchical formatting can get confusing.

  7. drunkenhooliganism - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:57 AM

    Of course Murphy was done at 31. He was really 37 by then. You can’t trust mormon birth certificates.

    I’m only about 20% sure, he’s mormon.

    • jimbo75025 - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:05 AM

      Yes, he is Mormon. He converted when he was either in minors or very early in his time in the majors.

  8. purnellmeagrejr - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    Juan Gonzalez – while not suitable for the Hall of Fame – should be enshrined in the Businessman’s Hall of Fame for making a 100 million dollar mistake in turning down a colossal offer from the TIgers – only to have his steroid inflated body break down on him and settle for a couple 1 year contracts (as I recall.).

    • weaselpuppy - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      boy are we tiger fans happy about that bonehead move…..Randy Smith still gets a FU….now we can get back to talking about whether Morris will make it, how Whitaker got jobbed by the BWWAAholes and why no one talks about how great Bill Freehan was….

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      If you’re saying Gonzalez’s body broke down because of steroids, allow me to introduce exhibit A: Rocky Colavito.

      It annoys me to no end when people claim A or B happened to a player because of steroids. Hell, maybe ‘roids did cause him to break down, but it’s hardly uncommon for players to become injury riddled messes in their early 30s.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 18, 2011 at 8:26 AM

        What the heck was the name of that guy (he had a long name with a lot of vowels) that won the MVP and was dead by about 45? Bad yoghurt was the coroners verdict.

  9. JBerardi - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    Behold Dale Murphy’s HOF chances, Chase Utley, and dispare.

  10. thefalcon123 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    What’s interesting about Murphy is that he had 6 great seasons, a couple of mediocre seasons and the rest were pretty bad.

    1978: Bad
    1979: okay
    1980: Excellent
    1981: okay
    1982: Great
    1983: great
    1984: great
    1985: great
    1986: pretty good
    1987: Great
    1988: kinda bad
    1989: bad
    1990: bad
    1991: bad

    He had great years, but was really an above average player in only seven seasons.

    • nolanwiffle - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      Not so coincidentally, MLB started testing for magic underpants in 1988.

  11. linedrivehit - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    The lesson we learn here is that Murph should not have been a nice guy; he should have taken steroids and prolonged his career like Clemens, and he could have been hitting 60-70 homers a year like Bonds and McGwire. I guess it is true that nice guys finish last. That’s a shame.

    • paperlions - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      You do realize that 1000s of players took steroids, right? And that only a few had effective careers into their late 30s or early 40s. So, we are supposed to believe that steroids only helped a couple of dozen guys? Clemens is an ignorant asshole, but there is no reason to think he wouldn’t have been just about the same pitcher if he never used anything, allegedly, of course.

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      Your right linedrivehit. Steroids are totally what got Mark McGwire into the hall of fame and are totally gonna help Bonds and Clemens’ cause!

  12. Tyree Studio - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Probably not HOF worthy, but he was one of my favorites as a kid when we first got cable (TBS) and I discovered baseball and baseball cards.

    That card in the picture is one of my favorites for some reason. Loved those 86 Topps.

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      Murphy won 2 MVPs, but made an argument for 3 more. No one really dominated the league in Murphy’s peak like some players do today. Instead, there would be seemingly be 7 or 8 guys who the award could have gone to.

      1982: Won
      1983: Won
      1984: 9th place, but did lead the league in HR and slugging, 2nd in OPS
      1985: 7th, but 1st in HR, 2nd in RBI and 2nd in OPS
      1987: 11th, but his beat year, 4th in OBP, 5th in slugging, 2nd in HR, 2nd in OPS

      The real reason for his down ballot finishes those last years were 100% due to the awfulness of the rest of his Braves’ teams. Had things broken a differently, I might be in the unfortunate position of arguing that a 5 time MVP winner didn’t below in the hall of fame!

      –Murphy lost to Sandberg, McGee and Dawson in those years. One could argue he was better than all three (I think Sandberg and McGee edged him out and he was clearly better than Dawson in 87).

    • stlouis1baseball - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:08 PM

      I am right there with Tyree. 86 Topps.

  13. cleareye1 - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Murphy is way ahead of Gonzales.

  14. foreverchipper10 - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Neither Murphy or Gonzales will make the Hall.


  15. gibsonsgrays - Nov 29, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    Pro Murphy argument Speed/Power/Defense/Position
    Take 395HR, 160SB, and 5 GG’s. Not nice and round numbers but Murphy was the 4th player to do this in the history of Major League baseball. All previous players are HOFers. 3 more have done it since then (Dawson, Griffey Jr, Bonds) one of those 3 are already in and the other two will get in for sure. Murphy also played CF which I think gets lost in the mix sometimes. Typically the top bombers are heavily represented at 1B, 3B, LF, and RF. The most physically demanding positions are up the middle. 2B/SS/CF/C. Of the top 50 HR hitters of alltime there is Piazza at Catcher, Ripkin Jr and Arod at SS/3B, no 2B, and 6 CF’ers. Murphy is still in the top 50 HR hitters despite the Roid ERA plowing its way in. When Murphy retired he was 19th on the all-time HR list. Only 2 players in the history of baseball have 2 MVP’s and are not in the HOF. Roger Maris (.260/265HR/21SB/1GG) and Murphy (.265/398HR/161SB/5GG). Some people say Murphy’s lack of top 5 MVP votes hurts him too. Too bad Murphy wasn’t present in the fantasy baseball era where more modern stats such as OPS and WAR are gaining steam. His MVP vote robberies are easy to argue but the easiest is 1987 where he was ranked 11th. He was 2nd in OPS/ 2nd in HR/5th in RBI and 5th in runs with a .295 avg and 3rd is WAR with a 7.5 (Joey Votto won this with a 5.9WAR in 2010 and Braun took down the award this year with a 7.7WAR. His lineup protection for most of the season was Ozzie Virgil (yes the catcher). Dawson won the 1987 MVP and there is an argument that the hardware wound up in the right hands but its a joke that Murphy wasn’t top 5. I am sure it mainly was attached to his team doing poorly but the MVP voters got it wrong. If Murphy was a part of the 90’s Braves domination he would be in. If Murphy’s numbers were more round (like 400hr/200sb) he would probably be in also. I think the fact Rice and Dawson got in only enhances the Murphy argument. Many HOFers agree. Nolan Ryan stated that when it came to the NL in the 1980’s it was all about Murphy and Schmidt. Ryan also compared Murphy to Joe DiMaggio for his power presence in CF. Quite a compliment. So my defense is numbers when a lot of the arguments are numbers. If you want to bring character into the picture then he would have already been a 1st ballot recipient.

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