The Colorado Rockies have a crowded outfield. Even after trading away Matt Holliday, they are trying to find playing time for five outfielders, plus using Ian Stewart in the OF on occasion. So, it’s not a surprise that Matt Murton wasn’t able to crack their opening day roster, but he’s doing everything in his power to hit himself out of Triple-A.
In his first 50 PAs for Colorado Springs, Murton is hitting .409/.480/.636 with six extra base hits, five walks, and just one strikeout. He’s running a .510 wOBA and hitting like Nelson Cruz did last year when he was trying to shake the AAAA player label. Unlike Cruz, though, Murton has already shown that he can hit major league pitching.
Murton is 27-year-old. He has 1,002 major league plate appearances in his career, and he’s hit .288/.354/.438 over that span. That’s a .345 wOBA, which makes him an above average hitter. We shouldn’t be terribly surprised when an above average major league hitter gets sent to the PCL in his prime and promptly destroys the league.
The question, then, is why is Murton still in Triple-A? Even coming off a bad 2007 season, CHONE projects him to be exactly league average as a hitter and +7 as a corner outfielder. That combination would make him approximately a +1.5 win player if given regular playing time.
At the least, Murton should be a right-handed platoon caddy for a team that has a LH hitting OF that struggles against same handed pitchers. Or a defensive replacement/pinch hitter in the NL. There’s no way that there are 750 better baseball players on the planet that Murton.
He’s going to get another shot in the majors. He’s too good to be written off prematurely like this. Bet on a smart organization reaping the rewards when they bring Murton back to the majors.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.