As the Mets’ roster has evolved throughout the course of this season, it appears that things may fall into place a bit faster that most fans had originally envisioned. The farm system, originally believed to be devoid of any significant major league caliber talent only one year ago, has produced enough replacements to keep the Mets afloat throughout the first third of the 2012 season. While this news is good for the franchise and its fans, it may not necessarily be terrific news for embattled second-baseman, Daniel Murphy.
Murphy is currently entrenched in one of the worst slumps of his career. Hitting .188 in the month of June with only 13 hits in his last 69 at-bats, Murph’s only sure attribute, his offense, seems to have deserted him for the time being. Such a void allows for the spotlight to be shifted to other areas of his game. Playing out of position for the purposes of finding him a place in the lineup, he leads NL second-basemen in errors thus far this year. He has also had several costly blunders on the base paths this season. Its for those reasons that Murphy’s offense is essential to keeping himself in the fold this season and beyond.
A further look into his one redeeming quality shows Murphy’s offense doesn’t have the value one might think. Despite a career .289 batting average, Murphy hits for minimal power and seems to have devolved into a strictly singles hitter this year. Boasting only a .344 slugging percentage, Murphy doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. Its for that reason that the arrival of other prospects, such as Jordany Valdespin, may eventually lead to the demise of Murphy as an every day player.
In the short time that Valdespin has spent at the major league level this season he has only hit to a .222 average, but in less than a quarter of the at-bats as Daniel Murphy, he has nearly half as many extra-base hits. That equates to a .444 slugging percentage. Now while this may be the effect of a small sample size, its clear that he possesses the power Murphy lacks. Other things in his possession? Better speed and by all accounts better defensive wherewithal than Murphy. Despite being both cocky and unpolished, Valdespin appears to have the qualities necessary to be a more complete ballplayer than Daniel Murphy.
That is probably a bitter pill to swallow for many Mets fans who’ve taken a liking to the undeniable amount of heart and hustle Murphy puts forth. The question I ask is whether or not that’s enough? This is Major League Baseball, where the nice guy doesn’t always win. While no one can take away the fact that Murphy tries about as hard as anyone else in all of baseball, there are better options coming. The time isn’t now, or even this season (provided Murphy pulls himself out of his aforementioned slump) to make a move at second base, but its on the horizon. Daniel Murphy is a lot of things. He is a good teammate, a quality human being and a decent ball player, but he is not the second-baseman of the future going forward.
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