Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #122 EDDIE MURRAY

PLAYED 2 YEARS IN N.Y., HITTING 43 HRs.



UNCORRECTED ERROR: CAREER K's THROUGH '92 SHOULD BE 1,224.



DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • If you're putting together a list of the best switch-hitters in baseball history, Eddie Murray has to be in the top three. Actually, with 504 homers, 1,917 RBI and a slash line of .287/.359/.476, Murray was one of the best hitters, period. He was an eight-time All-Star but never voted league MVP despite finishing in the top five six times. For 21 years, Murray lived up to his "Steady Eddie'' nickname with production and by playing nearly every day.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Murray had a Roy Hobbs moment in the deciding Game 5 of the 1983 World Series against the Phillies on Oct. 16. After homering in the second inning, he clubbed another in the fourth off Charlie Hudson that smashed off the Veterans Stadium right-field scoreboard, right above the "M'' in "Murray.'' The Orioles went on to win 5-0, claiming their third World Series title.

DEFINING SEASON

  • It's difficult to pick out one superior Murray season, but how about '84, when he posted his highest WAR at 7.1? He led baseball in walks with 107, had a .306/.410/.509 slash line, hit 29 homers and drove in 110 runs. He finished fourth for AL MVP and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Named '77 AL Rookie of the Year, hitting 27 homers, driving in 88 and batting .283.
  2. In his 12-year Orioles career, Murray averaged 152 games a season, 28 homers, 99 RBI and a .295/.371/.500 slash line.
  3. With the "Oriole Way'' moniker becoming more of a punchline than a badge of honor in the mid-'80s, Murray emerged as a target of owner Edward Bennett Williams and fans, especially in '86 when a pulled hamstring put him on the DL. Williams blamed Murray's lack of conditioning, the fans began to boo and the pieces were in place for an awful trade.
  4. Sure enough, the Orioles dumped Murray on Dec. 4, 1988, giving him to the Dodgers for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell. No, really, Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell for Eddie Freakin' Murray!! It was a horrible trade then and an abomination now.
  5. All was forgotten when the Birds re-acquired Murray in a trade in '96; on Sept. 6, he hit his 500th home run in Camden Yards. Well, not totally forgotten. Murray deserved to be a lifelong Oriole and that still sticks in most Bird fans' craws, including mine.

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