Ron Washington's easy Game 2 choice

October, 28, 2010
10/28/10
10:30
AM ET
Let's be real clear about this ... David Murphy is not some raw scrub who's likely to wilt under the pressure of actually playing. For most of the past three years, he's been playing when the other team starts a right-handed pitcher (which is most of the time).

Is Murphy a great hitter? No. He is adequate. He's got a career .288/.354/.487 line against right-handed pitchers. Which (again) isn't great.

It's not nearly as good as Vladimir Guerrero's, which shouldn't be a surprise.

But Guerrero is old. Well, actually he's middle-aged. It's his knees that are old. Whichever parts of his body you prefer, he simply isn't the hitter he once was. Guerrero's got a .301/.349/.501 line against righties over the past three seasons. Toss in Guerrero's 35 birthdays (compared to 29 for Murphy), and it's very, very, very difficult to convincingly argue that Guerrero, right now, is a measurably better hitter than Murphy.

Against right-handed pitchers, I mean. Like Matt Cain, for example.

Of course, Vladimir Guerrero's walking a one-way path to Cooperstown. David Murphy isn't. In the event of a tie, you have to go with the Hall of Famer.

But it's not a tie. It's not remotely a tie.

Because fielding counts, too. David Murphy is a pretty good outfielder. At this point in his career, Vladimir Guerrero is a terrible outfielder when well-practiced; at the moment, he's ill-practiced.

This is actually a pretty easy call. In the National League park with a right-hander starting for the Giants, David Murphy is the obvious choice, with Guerrero ready to come off the bench as one of the more talented pinch-hitters in World Series history.

In Game 1, Guerrero's two errors didn't really matter. If he plays right field again in Game 2, he probably won't make two errors. He probably won't make one error. If he does make an error, or doesn't make an error but doesn't get to a ball that Murphy would have, it probably won't matter much.

But what if it does? What if Guerrero makes an error that lets in a run or two, in a one-run game? Doesn't that rank among the great managerial blunders of the 21st century?

Shortly after Game 1, Ron Washington showed little inclination to bench Guerrero in Game 2. But he was probably in a bit of shock. He'd just seen his team give up more than 10 runs for only the third time all year. Maybe he wound up getting a solid night of sleep, woke up refreshed, and came to his senses. Maybe the Rangers will have a real right fielder Thursday night.

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