The battle for second base rages on, but the real battle for the second base competition has been based in assumptions with unproven characters (Turner, Murphy, Emaus) and a character that every Mets fan wishes won’t prove himself (Luis Castillo).
Though its only spring training, I am putting my backing into camp Murphy. Here are four reasons why I think he will make the team as the starting 2B.
1. Murphy has MLB Experience
Even if it was only for one season, Murphy has a leg up in the competition because he has put together over 500 AB’s at the MLB level. Turner had a small cup of coffee at the MLB level and Emaus has 0 MLB experience. Murphy’s stat line of 60/12/63/4 and a .266 BA looks very bad in LF/RF. At 1B, unless his defense was beyond gold glove it would be acceptable, but he was acceptable to good at 1st, making his stats there also weak. At 2B, if Murphy put up the same stat line with no improvements, he would be the most potent offensive bat at the position since Jose Valentin’s one good 2006 season, and before that since Edgardo Alfonzo. It has been THAT long. His experience gives him a track record, and considering the 2009 Mets lineup was a skeleton of injuries, Murph was hitting in the 3 hole, in the 5 hole and in places where realistically he had no business being in. In this lineup, he would be hitting 7th presumably.
2. He tries hard.
If the only position on the team was for a LOOGY, a part of me believes Daniel Murphy would learn to pitch, just to make the MLB team. Since he has taken at-bats for the Mets, he has played 1B and LF at the professional level, 3B and 2B at the minor league level and now is playing 2B in spring training. His natural position was 3B. They offer Daniel hopes for grabbing positions, and he tries to play and adapt to that position. Reports only speak of a tireless worker, infamously overworking himself in the batting cages and taking a slightly less intense approach. His drive and desire is something you can’t teach and his confidence and old-school style of play makes him a guy the other 24 are willing to play for
3. Versatility = Key
This has more to do with the Mets, then it does with Murphy. To properly utilize the bench, players who can play multiple positions are useful, especially in the dilemma that they are in. With Nickeas/Paulino taking up one catching spot, Harris/Hairston occupying the 4th OF spot, Hu presumably being Jose Reyes backup, the bench is left open for 2 spots. Those spots would be for a 5th outfielder or a 2nd baseman. If Brad Emaus doesn’t win the job, he may remain on the bench to be avoided to be sent back to the Blue Jays. That means the last bench spot would be great for a utility guy. In that logic, with his new found 2B position, Murphy could in theory play any position but shortstop, center field, pitcher and catcher. Having a guy who could play the outfield in a pinch and cover most of the diamond gives Terry Collins a lot of room to work with. Justin Turner has versatility, in that he has options and can be sent to the minors without fear of losing him.
4. He is new, but he shows potential
What has been mentioned is watching Murphy pull a double-play and do things of that nature, the most surprising thing that I read was that he and Emaus play at about the “same aptitude” – but what gives me hope in that situation is Emaus has been playing that position for a few years. Murphy has roughly half a year and this offseason worth of playing experience at 2B and is no worse then Emaus. That means with practice and repetition he could only improve and become acceptable to possible good at 2B. Terry Collins already has mentioned his preference for an offensive 2B, so Luis Castillo and Ruben Tejada are behind the 8-Ball.
I’ve seen Daniel Murphy playing 2B, and he doesn’t look horrible. His footwork isn’t natural, but he gets the job done. The only thing that worries me is his throwing motion, because it is very long. If he can tighten that up and make it a more short armed throw, that would convince me from another standpoint that he will be sufficient at 2B.
If Murphy can be acceptable with a decent offensive line and just continually give 100% effort and put up those numbers from the #7 spot in the lineup, he can have a chance to be a productive hitter, to score some runs and be involved in some hit-and-run with Josh Thole. Murphy is a great story, because he is homegrown, he gives his all and he understands that baseball is a team game, and however he can help the team he is willing.