Daniel Murphy Can Flat Out Rake

In Monday night’s thrilling 4-2 defeat of the Reds, we were reminded yet again just how much Daniel Murphy has evolved as a hitter. With his two doubles, including his two-run scoring double in the 7th, Murphy now sits just four doubles behind teammate Carlos Beltran for the National League lead. Quietly, the young 26-year-old utility man has become one of the best overall hitters in the National League here in 2011. Murphy remained red-hot last night and picked up another three hits in the Mets 8-6 win over the Reds.

For the season, Murph is batting a career best .313, ranking him top ten in the league. However, that average sat at just .239 in the middle of May, but since that time the Jacksonville, Florida native has kicked it into gear and has been raging hot ever since. The Jacksonville University alum has steadily continued to raise his average month by month, in May Murphy batted a steady .281, then in June he topped that total hitting .330 for the month, and here in the July Daniel has been able to raise the bar by batting an impressive .344 with five days left to go in the month.

What’s been even more impressive has been number 28’s knack to come up with the big hit, both with runners in scoring position and runners in scoring position with two outs. To date, Daniel is batting an impressive .337 with runners in scoring position, but when the pressure is at its highest Murphy seems to rise to the occasion, hitting a mind blowing .380 with runners in scoring position with two outs.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a lefty or a righty on the mound as the 394th draft selection from the 2006 MLB Draft, is hitting .309 against the righties, and has only fallen off four points when facing the lefties, batting .305. Consider this, in 2009, primarily as the Amazin’s everyday first basemen, Murphy struggled mildly against the lefties, batting a dismal .223 compared to this seasons .305.

This may be a small sample size, but a sign of things to come not only here in 2011, but in the future for the talented left handed batter. Prior to the All-Star break, Daniel was batting a solid .305 while compiling an On-Base+Slugging percentage of .776, post All-Star break, all Murphy has done has continued to find ways to improve his numbers at the plate, batting .326, while raising his On-Base+Slugging percentage to .910 in that span.

Given that 1st basemen Ike Davis is all but done for the season, combined with the way Daniel Murphy has been able to rake, one would expect to see the talented 26-year-old primarily manning 1st for the Mets for the remainder of 2011.

What I’m interested to see is what happens to Murphy when Ike Davis makes his return hopefully in 2012. There are a number of options manager Terry Collins will be presented with, but what we could see is a platoon situation with Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner at second base. However, with the injuries that have plagued both Ike Davis and David Wright this season, it may not be such a bad idea for Murph to get time at both 1st and 3rd base next season once a week at each position to give both guys a blow here and there to keep them fresh.

Again this just pure speculation on my part, but with the way Daniel Murphy has hit this season, as he only appears to be getting stronger as the season wears on, certainly the fiery Collins may look to get the utility infielder regular playing time all along the diamond for the 2012 season.