From the beginning of the season, defense had seemed to be a big question, but one the Mets front office seemed to ignore for the sake of offense. While the offense has been good if not great this season, the runs the defense has cost the Mets is definitely showing differential in the pitchers FIP, or fielding-independent pitching.
The real experiment from the onset of the season was “who will play second?” and that was answered by a group of three hitters (Emaus, Turner & Murphy) and one fielder (Tejada). Emaus played below average defense and couldn’t hit at the professional level, so he was gone by April 19th. Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy platooned the position, and Turner was scorching hot from the beginning, with average defense and range. However, Turner’s bat cooled and Murphy’s heated up right around the time of the Ike Davis, and then David Wright injuries. For that reason, Lucas Duda and in some cases Nick Evans were left to play 1st base. Then, the Jose Reyes two-week hamstring injury.
If an infield of Duda/Turner/Tejada/Murphy doesn’t scream gold glove, there is a reason why. Daniel Murphy, who is a great hitter is truly comfortable at zero positions on the field, and the best he has looked was at first base, but still makes as many mental and fielding mistakes as he does amazing plays. Lucas Duda also has no position, and is much better served as a LF, but he just doesn’t look right at first base. Justin Turner has decent range, but a constant theme by most of the Mets has been the inability to turn the double play, and in most cases that is spearheaded by Turner covering second or feeding the ball to second.
If the last few games has taught Mets fans anything, it is that defense is key and mistakes will happen. When mistakes keep happening, however they show that its in the players nature. Yesterday, two errant throws by both Jose Reyes and David Wright, and the huge mental error by Daniel Murphy ensured the Mets would and will get their pitchers in to trouble with their gloves.
With the season being two months from completion, the Mets may need to look into a few avenues to improve their infield defense, because signing a free agent pitcher to a poor defensive team (Angel Pagan has been..interesting in CF) will become difficult. It is essential to hold on to some foundations or ideas of a good fielding team, because a team can score runs, but if they can’t save them with their defense – its a lost cause.