Wednesday, August 03, 2005


August 3rd, 1990

Dale Murphy Traded

Every now and then a player suddenly and inexplicably loses whatever talent he had, and it is just gone for good. I like to think of this as falling off the Dale Murphy's Career Memorial Cliff. Murphy had been the National League's MVP in 1982 and 1983, hitting thirty-six home runs each year. In 1987 he slammed forty-four home runs and hit .295/.417/.580. Murphy was just thirty-two years old heading into the 1988 season and coming off arguably the best year of his career. So what happened next was just baffling.

Murphy hit just .239 in April of 1988, but most dismissed this as a slow start. However, when he followed that up by hitting .200 in May and .234 in June, people began to worry. However, Murphy seemingly shook that off with a good-if-not-great .284/.366/.578 July. Rather than a return to form however, July 1988 would prove a last hurrah for Dale. He hit .194 in August and failed to break .225 in any month the rest of the season, finishing the year at .226/.313/.421, a loss of nearly seventy points of batting average and more two-hundred fifty points of OPS. Murphy would sink even lower in 1989, losing much of his remaining power.

Midway through the 1990 season, the Braves traded Murphy--still less than three seasons removed from a forty-four home run season--to the Phillies for reliever Jeff Parrett, who had an ERA of 5.18 at the time. Murphy would bounce around until 1993 but even time in Colorado failed to revive his career as he hit just .143 at Mile High Stadium.

So what happened to Murphy's talent? I have no idea. No one seems to. It simply disappeared, the first victim of going over the Dale Murphy's Career Memorial Cliff.

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