Batting 6th and Playing 1B, #28, Daniel Murphy

I am a passenger on the Daniel Murphy bandwagon.  I’ve been defending Daniel all winter and will continue doing so.  Whether you agree or not, see the writing on the wall.  Murphy will be the Mets starting 1st baseman this year.  My prediction is that Daniel will prove his detractors wrong and have a breakout season in 2010.

In January at the Mets seasons ticket holders get-together at CitiField I had the pleasure to meet Daniel Murphy.   He is a good looking kid with a great smile.  He’s also 6’3″ tall, weighs 210 lbs, and has a great ballplayers physique.  Hearing him speak, he comes across as a confident, intelligent 24 year old who is planning on making it big in the major leagues.

Murphy said that he has been working out four or five days a week; running and lifting weights.  Then he hits and takes ground balls with his brother who plays college ball at Jacksonville University (also Daniel’s alma mater).  He had been planning to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic, but the organization citing his heavy workload in 2010 (he played in 154 games), decided to keep him home.

Later that evening at a Q and A, he introduced himself by saying, “Hi  I’m Daniel Murphy, the Mets 1st baseman”.  The New York media does not seem to scare him.  He is a potential poster boy.  After hearing him answer many questions from the attending fans, I was impressed.  He is anything but brainless and heartless.

Let’s revisit just how much Daniel accomplished last year during difficult times.  He started out as the Mets everyday left fielder.  Defensively he was awful, botching several fly balls that should have been caught.  His hitting suffered too, likely due to his anxieties of playing left field.  After Carlos Delgado was lost for the season, Murphy was moved to 1st base, a position he had never played before.

As the season progressed he learned to play 1st base adequately, and as he felt more comfortable started hitting better too. When Reyes and Beltran also went down with injuries, Murphy was elevated to a much larger role than had been anticipated.  He was just a rookie at age 24, suddenly batting third or cleanup, with all eyes on him to be one of the main offensive producers of the team.  He wasn’t ready for such a role yet.

Murphy’s  average in May was an anemic .176.  But his splits, from first half to second half showed marked improvement.

  • Average: .248 to .282
  • Slugging: .364 to .485
  • OPS .677 to .798

Despite his rookie season’s hardships and anxieties, the end result was very successful and encouraging.  Overall he batted .266 with an OBP of .313.  He totaled 38 doubles, hit 12 home runs, scored 60 runs and drove in 63.

To his detractors, yes, he has to learn to be more patient and walk more often.  But I feel confident that with his work ethic at bat and in the field, he will significantly improve on his weaknesses.  I’m not predicting that he will be a gold glove 1st baseman, but I expect him to be an above average one.

Offensively Murphy has not nearly reached his potential.  He is tall, strong, and athletic, and is an extremely hard worker.  Daniel is not a singles hitter.  He is a line drive gap hitter who will develop more and more power as he matures and gains weight.  I look for him to hit close to .300 with 40 doubles, 15+  home runs and 80 RBI in 2010 if given the opportunity to play every day.

Let’s not worry about how Ike Davis will fit in next year.  If Murphy succeeds this season, the Mets have a great problem to solve next season.  Several years ago the Brewers traded Lyle Overbay so that Prince Fielder could move into the lineup.

In my opinion Murphy will be great in the clubhouse and can be a leader of this team. He has a future in New York with the Mets.

It’s hard not to root for Daniel Murphy.  He is a product of the farm system.  Just maybe Daniel Murphy will prove to be a burgeoning star.  And all the cynics will jump on the Murphy bandwagon.