When I first started to write this piece about a week ago, it was going to be about why Daniel Murphy is not the answer at second base for the Mets. I questioned why some Mets fans are obsessed with this player that was, to me at least, a fringe major leaguer at best. I argued that he wouldn’t even start for the majority of major league teams. I proclaimed if you are going to have a player who is a defensive liability at any position, he better be well worth it offensively, and Murphy being a slap hitter, isn’t worth it. Then I looked at his stats…
Could it be the Mets actually got it right with Murphy? Could he actually be our second baseman of the future? He’s starting to pass the eye test defensively – making some nice plays and cutting down on his errors. He has done better than most projected defensively, but he is still ranked 20/20 out of major league second baseman (that qualified being ranked) in fielding percentage. His fielding percentage is .971. Offensively, the only position his stats qualify him for are second base or shortstop. He would be like a throwback offensive middle infielder, slapping the ball around the field and setting the stage for the heavy hitters in the lineup. The problem is, those throwback guys had great gloves – Murphy is still adjusting to the position.
Oddly enough, Murphy ranks in the top ten in almost every offensive category for second basemen this season. The homerun category is where we see a serious drop off. Offensively, he is holding his own in the second base ranks, which may be why he finally found a home. But the question remains whether he will keep progressing defensively. If he can take the next step defensively, then there is no doubt in my mind that Murphy can be a very good second baseman for years to come. He may never play in an all-star game, but he can definitely be a top ten second baseman in this league.
Fans will have to temper their expectations for Murphy. He’s not going to be a 20 homerun guy, and most likely never going to win a gold glove, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid major league player. Everyone wants a Robinson Cano at second base, but the reality is that Murphy’s offensive skill set is perfect for the prototypical second baseman. That’s why it’s so important for Murphy to get his defensive skills up to par. When you think about it, there is only a handful of second basemen that fans would rather have playing, other than Murphy, when compared to the other second basemen in the league. That says a lot about how far he’s come, and hopefully, where he is going.