Chicago Cubs fans specifically will remember Matt Murton, the redheaded left fielder that took over the position for the Cubs following Corey Patterson‘s departure. He appeared in parts of four seasons for the Cubs, compiling averages of .294/.363/.448 before being traded. He played only nine games for the Oakland Athletics in 2008 and twenty-nine for the Colorado Rockies before disappearing from the MLB.
Surprisingly enough, Matt Murton’s career as a baseball player has been even better since leaving the league. He had very respectable averages over his five years in the MLB, but was released by the Rockies, only to have his contract purchased by the Hanshin Tigers of the NPB.
In Murton’s first season as a member of the Hanshin Tigers, Murton became only the fourth player in the history of Nipponese Professional Baseball to finish a season with more than 200 hits. He broke the single season hit record for the league, eventually ending his year with 214 hits in 144 games. The previous record holder was Ichiro Suzuki, who played for the Orix Blue Wave at the time.
Although Murton hasn’t been able to recapture the overwhelming success of his first season in Japan, he has a .311 career average over the three seasons he has spent playing for Hanshin. 2012 was a weak year, with an AVG of .260 and an OPS of .632, but he has become a very popular player in NPB. Hopefully, he can bounce back and return to the .349/.395/.499 numbers that made him a household name among fans of baseball in Japan.