Fantasy Baseball: 9 Spring Training Position Battles With Big Implications
Colorado Rockies' Catcher
Murphy is heading into his age-26 season, so he's no spring chicken, but he has a track record of offensive destruction in the minors. During 321 plate appearances at Triple-A last year, he had a .327/.361/.647 slash with 19 home runs. A lot of that is inflated by playing in a hitter's park (yes, that's even the case for the Rockies in Triple-A), but check out his numbers compared to what Story did at the same place in 2015.
|At Triple-A||Walk Rate||Strikeout Rate||AVG||OBP||SLUG|
|Story in 2015||5.8%||24.7%||.277||.324||.504|
|Murphy in 2016||5.0%||24.3%||.327||.361||.647|
They both had similar plate-discipline stats, but Murphy had the edge in isolated power. Story was certainly much younger than Murphy in his time, thus giving Story the overall advantage, but Murphy's success in Albuquerque wasn't all due to the park.
There are still two problems with Murphy. First, it's far from certain that he wins the job. Rockies manager Bud Black said earlier this spring that Murphy and fellow catcher Tony Wolters would share duties behind the plate, according to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Wolters is entering his age-25 season and bats from the left-hand side, so if they wind up in a platoon, you can kiss Murphy's short-term viability goodbye. Wolters had just a 21.2% hard-hit rate in 230 plate appearances in the bigs last year; Murphy's the lone hope from a fantasy perspective.
The other problem with Murphy is that the buzz has already been stirring. His ADP is 251, making him the 16th catcher off the board. The guys going behind him aren't super appealing, so it makes sense to bank on upside, but this is not a completely off-the-radar name.
With Murphy, it's okay to make him one of your last picks if you're planning on scraping by at catcher. If he wins the job, he'll pay that pick off easily. But you'll also need to stay abreast of the situation as opening day approaches and be willing to cut bait if it appears Wolters will be heavily involved.