Obscure Spotlight: Matt Murton

Unless you’re one of our many, many Japanese fans, our next Obscure Spotlight will be a guy whose name you haven’t heard in quite some time.

japanhit

Well, maybe just that one person from Japan who visited us once.

mattmurtonThe Nippon league’s single-season hit leader, with 214, is not Ichiro, as you may have guessed. No, instead that record belongs to American Obscure Athlete Matt Murton.

Murton was picked 32nd overall by the Red Sox in 2003. His time in the Boston organization was brief, however, as in 2004 Murton was involved in the trade that sent Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs. He made his Major League debut for the Cubs on July 8, 2005, two years to the date after signing his first pro deal with Boston.

Murton spent the ’06 season starting in the Cubs’ outfield. He became a fan favorite and enjoyed a successful campaign, hitting .297 with 13 homers and 62 RBI. Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry, ever the masterful evaluator of baseball talent, however, decided during that ’06 offseason that the team could do better in left field. So he brought in one of the truly unsung kings of the Steroid Era, Cliff Floyd. Murton played in only 94 games in 2007 as a result.

Murton was never the same after being platooned with Floyd. In July of ’08 he was moved along with obscure outfielder Eric Patterson and pitcher Sean Gallagher to the Athletics, for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. He would play in just 38 more games in his Major League career, spending time with the A’s and then the Rockies in ’09. Murton’s Major League OPS is a respectable .788, to go with his .286 career average. Murton could have been a long-time major leaguer if he just caught a few breaks–they just never came for the dude.

Matt Murton’s greatest source of notoriety instead comes from his time in the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League, where ‘s become one of the premiere hitters in the country. Perhaps one day the 31-year-old pro veteran will make a return to the Majors. For now we’ll have to settle for watching him from the other side of the world, tearing it up with the Hanshin Tigers. Not the Detroit ones.

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