Does A Good Bat Make Up For Bad Defense?

An article by posted on August 2, 2011

Some would argue that first baseman Daniel Murphy was largely responsible for the last two Mets losses because of his costly mental gaffes in critical moments of each game. Others would argue that it was the “team” that lost. Normally I would agree with the latter, but I’m going to have to admit that I lay these current losses squarely at the feet of one – Daniel Thomas Murphy.

Last night’s gaffe by Murphy hurt more because it undid what had been an exciting comeback bid by the Mets who tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and sent it into extra-innings.

The problem with Murphy is that he lacks the instincts you look for from a position player. He’s not bobbling the ball or failing to get to the ball, he simply doesn’t know what to do with the ball once he has it.

Last night was just another example of that as he failed to pick up an easy out when Dewayne Wise made a wide turn rounding first and was seemingly a dead duck. But Murphy turned away from the play costing the Mets a valuable out and the opportunity to walk slugger Mike Stanton rather than pitch to him. The rest as they say, is history.

His baserunning mistakes have also hurt the Mets.

Listening to Murphy cry into his Gatorade while sitting at his locker after a game, is becoming a frequent occurrence during the Mets postgame show.

This graphic courtesy of MetsBlog, really sums things up:

Clearly, Murphy is a man without a defensive position he can truly call home. In fact his only position resides either on a major league bench or as a designated hitter.

The thing of it is however, is that Daniel Murphy can flat-out hit!

Murphy currently ranks fourth in the National League with a .320 batting average. His 28 doubles are only two doubles shy of being the league leader despite playing in far fewer games.

With Carlos Beltran now in San Francisco, Murphy is the undisputed team leader in RBIs with 48. One of his other gifts at the plate is that he always seems to put the ball in play and doesn’t pile up strikeouts. For example Murphy has 41 K’s in 381 at-bats, while David Wright had 48 K’s in 193 at-bats and Jason Bay has 74 K’s in 298 at-bats.

But at what point does defense matter?

As good as Murphy’s bat obviously is, does it make up for his bad defense?

Honestly, I don’t have an answer for you, but I’m leaning toward no. Murphy’s defense is just too bad to make up for his offensive exploits at the plate. These last two losses are clear evidence of that to me.

But I would like to know what you think?

Do we keep putting Murphy in the lineup and just accept the fact his defense will cost the Mets games at times?

What about trading him to an American League team in the offseason? Does his bat get the Mets a player that can fill another area in return, perhaps a shutdown reliever?

Let me hear your thoughts.

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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