Daniel Murphy is having a post season for the ages. Should his success put him on the New York Mets radar for 2016?
The silence was deafening. So deafening It seemed a forgone conclusion that the Mets had no interest in bringing back the man people love calling Murphy.
Even longtime Mets broadcast Gary Cohen recently suggested – on WFAN – that Dan Murphy is a “net negative.” Interestingly enough, both Cohen and the Mets (basing their thinking on similar terms) were right. Based on his career numbers, base running blunders, and mediocre defense, nothing suggested the Mets should make Dan Murphy a lucrative long-term offer.
— The 7 Line (@The7Line) October 16, 2015
Let us look at the facts.
Daniel Murphy is a career .288 hitter, who averages eight home runs a year, and averages 57 RBI per season. Mets fans haven’t witnessed a lot of dynamic offensive weapons the past few seasons, thus they tend to overrate Murphy’s offense. With a career on base percentage of .331 and an OPS of .755, his offensive numbers are nice. Those lines aren’t league leader type, but they’re certainly numbers most teams would be happy with from their second baseman.
However, Murphy’s offensive numbers are not good enough to off-set his poor defense and his propensity for vapor locking on the field, be it running-the-bases or poor choices on defense. Had Murphy put up Jeff Kent-like numbers, you’d live with the negatives. But Murphy does not put up Jeff Kent numbers. He finished seventh among starting second baseman in OPS, and near the bottom of the league in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) when compared to other players at the same position.
All of a sudden – faster than a jackrabbit taking care of business – things have changed a bit.
Murphy has made a statement with his bat. Suddenly, Murphy has found a power stroke. Forget the post season for a moment. Taking a look at Murphy’s August and September, he hit four home runs in each. Had he hit them at such a pace during the season, quick math indicates he would have hit 24 for the season.
OK, so maybe he had a nice two months, and hit more home runs than usual. That happens to players. It’s a statistical anomaly, but his home run power has continued into October. To date, he has hit an incredible six home runs during the playoffs. That makes his grand total 14 home runs over the course of two and a half months. That’s a ton of home runs, especially from a middle infielder. If Murphy has made an effort to try to turn on more pitches, and the result is hitting more home runs, the Mets almost have to consider bringing him back.
So where would Murphy play? At second base, Murphy is not a complete disaster with the glove, but he does has to play very deep to off-set his lack of range. Playing as deep as he does makes many routine plays closer than they should. Just ask Ruben Tejada. Plus, early indications suggest Dilson Herrera will be starting at second in April of 2016. Herrera is young, plays a fine second base and should bring a nice a bat to the table. There’s no question the guy is much more of a prototypical second baseman than Murphy.
If the Mets were to bring Murphy back, the organization should consider first base, the position currently held by Lucas Duda. Duda has been a nice a player for the Mets since being given the full-time job in 2014. He smashed 30 home runs last season and followed up with 27 home runs on this, suddenly magical campaign. He probably would have hit 30 had he not missed time to injury.
On the surface, 27 is a really nice number, but that number is also extremely misleading. Duda has shown a tendency to go on home run binges. For example, in late May he hit six homers a seven game span. In late July/early August he hit nine home runs over an eight game span. Then, again in late September, he hit five over a three game span. That makes 20 of his 27 home runs that were totaled over the course of just 18 games. This means he only hit seven home runs in the other 115 games he played. That’s not the type of consistency a team wants from a middle of the order hitter. Duda may possibly be a player who hits bad pitching well.
To further state the case for Murphy, Duda is just one year younger than Murphy. It is OK to start to question if Duda is really a better option? Duda does play a better first base than Murphy, but Murphy can handle the position. In addition, Murphy has the ability fill-in at other spots on the infield – something Duda does not offer. As a matter of fact, with all of his defensive issues, how many other Mets players can play first, second and third while still offering a serviceable bat? How many guys in the league can do that?
So listen up Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, it is time to put Daniel Murphy back on the radar. The fans love him and he seems to love being a Met. Most importantly, if his current power surge is an indicator of what is to come, Murphy’s best years are ahead of him.
Is the risk worth the reward? His recent success provides an emphatic “yes.”
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