In 2011 and again in 2012, David Murphy was a key bat down the stretch for the Texas Rangers as the team's fourth outfielder who would get about three or four starts a week. The rest of the time, he was a big bat off the bench.
But with the departure of Josh Hamilton last offseason, Murphy was thrust into a role he'd long coveted as a starting outfielder with a chance to get everyday at-bats. That didn't go well for Murphy, who had a career-worst season in his contract year, hitting .220 with 13 homers and 45 RBIs — numbers that were paled in comparison by his 2011 and 2012 numbers, when he wasn't getting nearly as many at-bats.
The result? Murphy hit the free agent market at the worst possible time and settled for a two-year deal worth $8 million with the Cleveland Indians, with whom he hopes to get back to basics and try to be himself again, not something bigger.
"I did it to myself," Murphy told MLB.com. "I think last year, I got a little pull-conscious. I tried to hit for a little more power and my swing got a little bit long. I was just inconsistent. Obviously the bottom line was the bottom line."
Murphy said it'll be a bonus to him to come to a winning team — a team that won more than 90 games a year ago — where he knows he won't have to carry the lineup like he said he felt at some points in 2013 after the departures of guys like Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young.
He said he too often forced the power part of his game, and that led to a career-worst season.
"I think I'm capable of hitting for power, and I proved the year before that I could hit .300, so it was like I wanted to add the power to my game," Murphy said. "I think power is just something that comes with good swings and a consistent approach. It's something you can't force, and I think I tried to do that last year."