The Chicago Cubs acquired Daniel Murphy on August 21, and he played his first game with the team the next day. The Cubs won that game. It was a trend that would continue.
In the ensuing two weeks, the Cubs have won 10 of 14 games. Murphy did not make an appearance in just two of those games. The Cubs lost both of those games.
In other words, when Daniel Murphy does not play now that he’s on the team, the Chicago Cubs have a .000 winning percentage. When he does play, the Chicago Cubs have an .833 winning percentage. To be sure, he, alone, does not make that much of a difference, but, hey, these are just numbers, people. You can’t argue with numbers.
In all seriousness, obviously Murphy has been a positive addition to the Cubs, but it’s worth pointing out that he’s fallen off a little bit since those scorching first few games. In his time with the Cubs, he’s hitting .283/.309/.509, which is certainly good, but hardly game-changing, at a 117 wRC+. By contrast, a guy who might otherwise have taken a lot of those starts at second base, Ben Zobrist, is hitting .306/.385/.454 on the season, with a 127 wRC+. And Zobrist’s defense is – in my view – inarguably better.
There’s also this surprising nugget:
Fun with small samples and cognitive bias …
Daniel Murphy since first game with the Cubs on 8/23:
.283/.309/.509, 117 wRC+
Ian Happ since that same day: .
250/.351/.500, 127 wRC+
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 5, 2018
None of that is to say that Murphy should be benched or some other silly thing. The dude can hit, and these samples are tiny. If he stays healthy, he’ll have another hot stretch that’ll turn all the numbers around. Heck, one good game would do it when you’re talking about two weeks worth of plate appearances.
But I thought it worth pointing out that, despite his obviously beneficial impact – and all the games the Cubs have won with him in the lineup – he’s currently rocking a below-average OBP in the leadoff spot while playing poor defense at second base. The Cubs will need a little bit more going forward.
Let’s hope it starts with a great game tonight against Jhoulys Chacin.