Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daniel Murphy: A Secret Weapon for the Mets in 2013 & Beyond

Photo courtesy of Alex Gallardo/AP

Jordan Panitch
Mets Menu Contributor

Throughout the last decade for the New York Mets baseball, second base has accumulated the least amount of production. The Mets tried out innumerable options at second base in their recent history, including Luis Castilo, Brad Emaus, Damon Easley, Luis Hernandez, Alex Cora, Jose Valentine, Anderson Hernandez, Kazuo Matsui Miguel Cairo, Robert Alomar, etc, all of which have failed to continuously produce.

An even more notable stat is that with the exception of Luis Castillo, no Met second basemen has ever remained on the roster for three consecutive years. It has been a bad situation. This statement pretty much sums up the frustrating situation the Mets have had in their recent history at second base. 

It has been way too long since they had "that" guy. That guy at second base that can produce at a consistent bases season after season, and providing a spark for the team with strong defensive abilities. Thankfully, one of the biggest out-takes from the disappointing 2012 season showed the Mets that they have found that guy. His name is Daniel Murphy. 

In 2008, Murphy entered his first year with the Mets. He did not get much playing time, but he did hit for an impressive .313 average in 49 games and 131 at-bats. There was one problem though, he looked lost playing left field. He posted a .962 fielding percentage, but besides the errors, he looked lost out there. The Mets did not have confidence starting him every day.

He landed a bigger role in 2009 due to the injured Carlos Delgado, and Murphy got a shot at showing what he could do at first base. He opened some eyes, and surprisingly looked very comfortable there. in 101 games at first base, he posted a .989 fielding percentage with only 10 errors. Between first and a few other miscellaneous positions, Murphy played 155 games in all in 2009, with a .266 average with 12 homers. 

He did not play during the 2010 season at all due to injury. When he returned in 2011, he was having a breakout year. He played 109 games, and hit a very impressive .320 before suffering a season-ending injury. Again, he did not have a position that defined him. He did not play more than 54 games at one specific position, switching between first, third, and second. 

A big question loomed before the 2012 season. The team didn't have a second basemen. They team put that position in Murphy's hands. He had another great offensive year, posting a .291 average in 156 games with 6 homers and 65 RBI's. Along with David Wright, he made a huge contribution to the Mets first half surge. 

Defensively, he started to look more comfortable throughout the season, but still struggled at some points. He had a .974 average with 15 errors at second base.  Many people believe he will never become a great player because of his continuous defensive struggles, but when his season is looked at in two halves instead of one, it is much easier to see that Murphy is on the right track. He had 9 errors before the break, 6 after.

 It is also important to take into account that second base was Murphy's unnatural position, and 2012 was his first year playing there for a full year. It was quite obvious that early on in the year, he was very uncomfortable there, but as the season moved on, he became much more adept to playing the position, turning double plays very efficiently with Tejada, making his routine plays, and even by the end of the season, he was making phenomenal plays, and at some points looking like a gold-glover. His experience at multiple positions has come in handy in the past and can be an asset to the team in the future as well. 

Many people think he is great trade bait for the Mets, but they're wrong. He's a keeper. His 2012 performance shows he really can become a great, key, consistent player for 2013 and beyond. Maybe we will see him in an all-star uniform come July, who knows??

Murphy's  production should allow him to become a long-tenured, and a possible franchise player for the Mets organization, and hopefully he will be playing a large role in  helping the Mets bring a world series trophy to New York. 

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