It was kind of strange with Dale Murphy’s MVPs. His first one might have gone unnoticed for the right guy not winning except it was the beginning of people writing about Sabermetrics and people noticed he didn’t have the best year. However, at that time the writers didn’t use the statistics to give a full measure. However, this caused a rile in the Sabermetric field and no recognized the 1983 season when he won that Murphy was more deserving of the reward. In fact, Bill James had to tell people to calm down as he thought Murphy was a reasonable choice that year.
Murphy was helped by three things. He was the best player of a surprise team that won their division, they won by 1 game, and he was on Superstation TBS. This was one thing that was also happening at the time, cable TV was getting bigger and bigger. The Braves always had the Braves, and they became a bit of a National Team. They were at least one of the most watched teams in the Country. This happened a few years later, but in 1982, we got to watch an actual pennant race with the Braves. It was fun.
In fact, in what was the game of the year on September 8th the Braves came into a home game against the Dodgers a half game behind. The game went back and forth. In the third Murphy his a 2-run homer to tie the game at 5-5. In the bottom of the 10th with two men on base, Murphy drove in the winning run for a 12-11 victory over the team they would beat by one game. Murphy was on base 4 times that game. This was a good argument for the MVP award.
The Braves didn’t stay up there in TV watching. There was a station in Chicago, WGN, that covered the Cubs, and they became a superstation. While Atlanta contended in 1983, they faded in 1984. That was the year of Ryne Sandberg and the Cubs. Another team that had a great new come in 1984 was the New York Mets who also had a superstation. In 1984 they had a rookie named Dwight Gooden. Gooden became unhittable in 1985 and had the best pitching season I ever saw, taking away more fans away from Braves game.
Murphy being the leading player was not the best thing for the Braves. While a solid player he wasn’t a spectacular player. He went out everyday and did his job. Murphy played 162 games 4 years in a row. Then at age 32 Murphy stopped hitting for some reason. He was always in good shape, as shown as games played, but he went from being a great hitter to an average hitter. He never did have a good season again.
I remember the Rockies picked him up as a free agent in their first season of 1993. They figured Coors Field would help him and he would draw fans in. I saw him play that year and you could see he had a slow bat. He played 26 games and hit only .143. He needed two homeruns to get to 400 and he couldn’t hit any. It was a sad end to a great career.