But I wouldn't call him underappreciated. Rangers fans know how important he is to the team. The rest of the league is finding out too.
Murphy now has a contract for 2011, avoiding arbitration. He'll make $2.4 million, getting a raise he certainly deserves. It seemed like at various points in 2010 (and in 2009 too) when the offense might be hitting a lull, Murphy would drive in a key run or make an important play. He's not a guy who generates a big "wow factor" like Hamilton or Cruz, but he plays hard, runs the bases smartly and is a patient, productive hitter.
And Murphy is one of those guys that those of us in the media are thankful to have around (the reality is this Rangers team is really great with the media). He's at his locker win or lose, ready to answer questions. He gives very good answers, too. Murphy is a guy that everyone enjoys talking to about any topic, not just baseball. He gets along with all of his teammates and clearly enjoys being around them.
Murphy usually gets off to slow starts with the bat. He hit just .162 in April of 2010 and it took him most of the first month of the 2009 season to get a hit. But Murphy usually slows steady improvement as the year goes on. Last season, he hit .355 in September and was the club's player of the month. Yes, they had a big lead as the month started, but when things got tough as they tried to clinch, Murphy was there to provide some key hits. He's been that way since he arrived in Texas as part of the Eric Gagne trade with Boston at the trade deadline in 2007.
Some guys might get irritated if they've put up the types of numbers Murphy has and they head to spring training every season wondering about playing time. Murphy doesn't complain.
"I think I just have to take the same mindset. Go play hard, do what I've always done and everything else will take care of itself," Murphy said. "There's no reason to worry about it. I play on a team with a great group of guys. There's no reason I need to worry or think about my playing time when we've defined ourselves as a winning franchise, and all I need to worry about is helping us continue that trend."
At 29 years old, Murphy is now one of the veterans on this team and a leader. If the Rangers put together another memorable stretch run, you can bet Murphy will be in the middle of it.