David Murphy on Four At-Bats vs Seattle

On June 10, David Murphy went 2 for 4 in a 9-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Progressive Field. The Indians outfielder faced right-hander Taijuan Walker in his first three plate appearances. His fourth time up, he faced left-hander Joe Beimel. Murphy, who is hitting .326/.367/.473 on the season, broke down his four at bats the following day.

LEAD-IN

“My general approach is the same for every pitcher. I take an up-the-middle approach. My swing plays into my favor when I pull the ball, but at the same time, a good hitter needs to be able to cover the entire plate. Walker has a good fastball. It’s a little bit sneaky, so if you’re not ready for the heater, you’re going to miss it. His command is what gets him in trouble, so at some point, you’re probably going to get a pitch to hit. But he pitched well against us at their place, about a week-and-a-half ago, and he did a pretty good job again last night.

“When we faced him in Seattle, I grounded out to the pitcher in my first at bat. In my second at bat, I just missed hitting a ball really well and flew out to center. My third at bat, I hit a hard one-hopper to the first baseman. I didn’t get a hit, but I felt good about what I did at the plate that night.”

FIRST AT BAT ON JUNE 10

“A lot of times, I’ll take a strike in my first at bat, which I did. Then he threw me a pretty good pitch, down and away, for strike two. Both pitches were fastballs. Then he threw me a split-finger, in the dirt. After that, he threw a good pitch at the bottom of the zone, kind of in. I was protecting for off-speed a little bit, and the fastball snuck up on me. I got a decent piece of it, but it was down enough to where he got a ground ball. A lot of hitting is reaction, and my swing was more defensive than aggressive.”

SECOND AT BAT

“We were down by six runs and I was leading off with nobody on base, so there was no point in being extremely aggressive. I’m a hitter who trusts his two-strike approach, so I’m taking a pitch again. It was strike one. Then he threw about as good of a pitch as he could have thrown, down and away, for strike two. It was the third down-and-away fastball I’d taken in my first two at bats.

“I was thinking he might go there again, to catch me off guard. He missed his spot and left it a little bit up – it was away – and I was able to get good wood on it and shoot it down the third base line for a single. In a lot of situations it might have been a double, but the left fielder was playing me toward the line.”

THIRD AT BAT

“We had first and second, with one out. I had a chance to drive in a run, so I knew there was a chance I might be pitched differently. He threw me a first pitch split-finger for a strike. I didn’t swing. The second pitch was a fastball, up and away, that I took a mediocre swing at. I fouled it back. That had me down 0-2, again. Then he tried to throw a fastball, in, which was a pretty good pitch – he tried to go up and in – and I reacted well. I got good wood on it, and hit it hard down the right field line, but I hit it foul.

“I don’t get pitched in a whole lot, because it’s a strength. They go over scouting reports, just like we do. I feel I’m a better hitter when the ball is close to me. My swing path is cleaner and a lot more consistent. When I get pitched in, it’s usually for show, to kind of speed me up and make the changeup more effective. That’s what happened. He threw me a split-finger in the dirt and I swung through it. I was way ahead of it, and struck out.”

FOURTH AT BAT

“I usually don’t get to face lefties, but at that point we were down eight runs. I was just trying to have a quality at bat (against Beimel). We had a runner on second base, and a lot of times in the past, with runners in scoring position, lefties have thrown me first-pitch off-speed. It ended up being a fastball up and in, for a ball. Then I took another pitch, a fastball right down the middle. Usually, the more pitches I see in an at bat, the more comfortable I get.

“The third pitch was a slider away, and I didn’t pick up the spin early enough. It was clearly a ball – it was pretty far off the plate – but I swung at it. Then he tried the same pitch, but it backed up on him. I put a good swing on it and hit it down the line. The first baseman dove and made a good play, but the ball kicked away from him just far enough, and I got an infield single.”

WRAP UP

“Early in my career, I wasn’t a guy who hit a good fastball well. Against a guy like Taijuan Walker, I would have been cheating instead of trusting my mechanics. I’d have been cheating to get to 95-96, and I’d be very susceptible to off-speed, or any type of breaking ball. Now I trust my hands and I had a few good at bats last night. I had a bad one, too. I let Walker speed me up with an inside fastball, and he struck me out with the split-finger, down. I’d obviously have liked to have had a better at bat with runners in scoring position.”

We hoped you liked reading David Murphy on Four At-Bats vs Seattle by David Laurila!

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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Brian
Guest
Brian

Can we now get a piece breaking down his approach as a relief pitcher?

Thx in advance.

Larry Bernandez
Guest
Larry Bernandez

His approach is to allow easy popups that his defense can’t catch.