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David Murphy and Ryan Raburn likely to platoon in right field for the Indians

A look back at other outfield platoons the Indians have used during the last 20 years.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

While it's possible that injury or performance will change things, the plan right now is for David Murphy and Ryan Raburn to platoon in right field for the Indians in 2014. Murphy (a left-hander hitter) will start against righties, whom he has an .816 OPS, while Raburn (a right-handed hitter) will start against lefties, against whom he has an .828 OPS. There aren't enough roster spots for teams to take advantage of the platoon advantage at more than one or two positions, but it can be an effective strategy when you've got the right personnel.

I'm defining a platoon as two (or in some cases, three) different players each starting 40+ games at a position in the same season, with opposite handedness, in games that were spread throughout most of year (not a situation where one player began the season at a position, but lost the job due to an injury or trade, etc.).

The Indians have used an handful of other outfield platoons over the last 20 years:

Left Field

In the last 20 years, Albert Belle (398) and Michael Brantley (222) have started the most games in left field for the Indians. 21 different players have started 40+ games there. Those low totals for the leaders at the position, and the high number of guys who've spent a substantial amount of time at the positon show just how little stability the Tribe has had in left during the last two decades.

2007: David Dellucci and then Kenny Lofton were the lefties, Jason Michaels was the righty. Dellucci hit just .238/.297/.407 in 44 starts, and was eventually let go. Lofton hit .280/.337/.373 after being brought back to the team just before the trade deadline. In September he started almost every game. Michaels hit .258/.316/.419 in 55 starts.

2008: David Dellucci was the lefty, Ben Francisco was the righty. Dellucci hit .224/.296/.382 in 46 starts. Francisco hit .269/.341/.407 in 77 starts. You usually don't see the right-handed hitter getting more starts, but in this case it's because in early June the platoon was called off and Francisco began starting most games. In August, Shin-Soo Choo began played in right field against righties, with Francisco there against lefties (with Choo in right field for those games).

2010: Trevor Crowe was the lefty, Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan were the righties. Kearns played almost every day until early July, when he began platooning with Crowe until he (Kearns) was traded to the Yankees for Zach McAllister at the end of July. For the final two months, Crowe and Duncan platooned. Crowe hit .280/.314/.373 in 41 starts, Kearns hit .275/.356/.433 in 65 starts, Duncan hit .262/.361/.500 in 38 starts (not quite 40, I know).

2012: Johnny Damon was the lefty, Shelley Duncan was the righty. The platoon lasted from early May, when Damon was added to the team, to early August, when he was released. Damon hit .228/.287/.322 in 52 starts, Duncan hit .207/.304/.366 in 52 starts. Yuck.

*In 1999 David Justice and Richie Sexson each spent time in left field, but they were both playing almost every day, with Sexson often at first base, and both players regularly in the DH spot. It was not a true platoon.

Center Field

In the last 20 years, Kenny Lofton (903) and Grady Sizemore (836) have started the most games in center field for the Indians. 11 different players have started 40+ games there. A very different story than left field, as two players have combined to cover the majority of time in center during the last 20 years, and a low number of players have spent significant time there.

2010: Michael Brantley was the lefty, Trevor Crowe was the righty. After Grady Sizemore was injured early in the year, Crowe played almost every day from mid-May to until the start of July, at which time Brantley was promoted and a platoon was put into place. Brantley hit .250/.297/.331 in 62 starts, Crowe hit .229/.284/.298 in 66 starts.

Right Field

In the last 20 years, Manny Ramirez (884) and Shin-Soo Choo (576) have started the most games in right field for the Indians. 16 different players have started 40+ games there. Just about smack-dab in the middle of left and center, in terms of how much turnover the Indians have had at the postion.

2007: Trot Nixon was the lefty, Franklin Gutierrez was the righty. Nixon hit .255/.339/.348 in 82 starts, Gutierrez hit .280/.332/.502 in 66 starts. Gutierrez didn't begin playing in right til June 1, and it was a fairly straight platoon from then until the middle of August, at which point Gutierrez began to start against righties more often and was playing almost every day in September.

2008: Shin-Soo Choo was the lefty, Franklin Gutierrez was the righty. Choo hit .283/.367/.497 in 46 starts, Gutierrez hit .241/.309/.356 in 85 starts. The position belonged to Gutierrez to begin the year, but Choo came up at the start of June and the two of them had a fairly straight-forward platoon from that point on. Choo hit well enough to take over the position on a fulltime basis for the following four season.

*Drew Stubbs and Ryan Raburn each started 40+ games in right field for the Tribe in 2013, but both are right-handed hitters, so while it was a timeshare, it was not a platoon.

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Between 1994 and 2006 the Indians never had a platoon in the outfield, but they've had one or more in 4 of the last 7 years. None of these platoons included all parties posting an OPS better than .710 though. It will be a disappointed if Murphy and Raburn can't both clear that figure in 2014, but if they do, they'll be Cleveland's most successful outfield platoon in more than 20 years.