Phillies: Examining Dale Murphy’s Hall of Fame case

While his time with the Phillies was short, he deserves the fanbase’s appreciation with his name back in the Hall of Fame carousel.

Dale Murphy was clearly at the end of a great career when he played for the Phillies from 1990 to 1992. Despite limited production during that time, Murphy was a fan favorite.

A gentle giant at 6′ 4″, even with the Braves, Murphy was one of the most respected and likable players in all of a baseball. But was his career Hall of Fame worthy?

Taking a look at the numbers, Murphy had 2,111 hits, 398 home runs, 1,197 runs and 1,266 RBI for his career that lasted from 1976 to 1993. He led the league in home runs and RBI twice, slugged over 30 home runs six times and knocked in over 100 five times.

Murphy was also a seven-time All-Star and won five consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1982 through 1986. To top it off, Murphy won back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983.

During Murphy’s peak years from 1980-1987, his numbers stack up against the best that ever played the game. He averaged 33 home runs, 96 RBI, 100 runs, .285 average .891 OPS and 140 OPS+ (with 100 being average).

His four seasons with at least 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 100 runs scored during that time were second only to Mike Schmidt’s five.  Murphy was the ONLY player to hit at least .280 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI five times during that span.

How does Dale Murphy stack up against outfielders already in the Hall of Fame? He holds up perhaps surprisingly well to some.  Doing a statistical analysis of the 43 outfielders in the Hall of Fame, Murphy falls in the 27th percentile in runs, 30th percentile in hits, 40th percentile in slugging percentage, 58th percentile in RBI, and 83rd percentile in home runs. Remember these numbers are AMONG those already in the HOF. His overall production falls in the middle of the pack of those already in the HOF at 48th percentile.

A Hall of Famer needs to be a dominant player during a significant period of years during his era. It’s difficult to compare statistics from different eras, but even doing so, you can see that Murphy compares very well to those that are in. Murphy passes the criteria of being a top outfielder of his era, dominating from 1980 through 1987.

Murphy never received serious consideration for the HOF during his 15 years on the ballot, topping out at 23.2 percent of the vote in the 2nd year.  Perhaps it was because Murphy didn’t reach any benchmarks for power hitters, falling two short of 400.  It may also be because Murphy played for the Braves during a time they were also-rans in the league.

Murphy was also not a flashy player with a big personality that would have drawn more attention to himself.  None of those diminish what he did as a player.

There are many in the HOF that accomplished less and it’s time Dale Murphy rightfully earns his spot among the all-time greats of the game.

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