Eddie Murray

Position: First baseman
Teams: Baltimore Orioles, 1977-1988, 1996; Los Angeles Dodgers, 1989-1991, 1997; New York Mets, 1992-1993; Cleveland Indians, 1994-1996; Anaheim Angels, 1997

Rarely did Eddie Murray lead his league in a key offensive category. He won just one home run crown, led only once in RBI and walks, and never won a batting title. He did, however, top 150 games played 16 times, and that helps explain how he collected 3,255 hits, 504 home runs, and 1,917 RBI, win a World Series ring, and make eight All-Star teams.

Though never a league MVP, Murray proved his consistency with eight top-ten finished in MVP voting.
Though never a league MVP, Murray
proved his consistency with eight
top-ten finished in MVP voting.

Born in Los Angeles in 1956, the switch-hitting Murray ascended to the majors as a DH for Baltimore in 1977. Batting .283 with 27 homers, he won Rookie of the Year honors -- then kept getting better. He hit .294 or higher from 1979 through 1986, usually belting about 30 homers a season and knocking in more than 100 runs. The Orioles won the World Series in 1983, as Murray homered twice in the decisive Game 5.

So why wasn't Murray lauded as a star? Partially because he was consistently good, rather than spectacular. This tended to make him a perennial contender for MVP honors, but not a trophy winner. As Bill James wrote about Murray, "His best year was every year."

In addition, the media -- who often make kings -- found Murray unpleasant to deal with. In truth, Murray was often taciturn. But he never shirked his duty, remaining in the lineup every day even as the Orioles fell to the cellar in 1988.

Dealt to Los Angeles for the 1989 season, Murray was expected to help the Dodgers win the pennant; instead, he hit just .247. A year later, however, he rebounded to bat .330 -- one of the highest seasonal batting averages ever for a Los Angeles Dodger.

From that point, Murray's career ground down. Joining the Mets as a free agent didn't work out, and the former star became an itinerant laborer, spending the last six years of his career in five different uniforms. He enjoyed one last burst in 1995, hitting .323 with 21 homers as a DH for the World Series-bound Cleveland Indians. He also collected his 3,000th hit in 1995 and his 500th homer in 1996, joining Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only men to achieve both milestones.

When he retired following the 1997 season, Murray had played 2,413 games at first base, setting a major-league record. He ranks as perhaps the second-most prolific switch-hitter in baseball history, behind Mickey Mantle, and won three Gold Gloves.

It is a tribute to his excellent career that despite the enmity he held for sportswriters (a feeling most scribes returned to him), Murray was overwhelmingly voted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, his first year of eligibility.

Here are Eddie Murray's major league totals:


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