Eric Young Jr. Is Not A Good Reason To Trade Daniel Murphy

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

An MMO Fan Shot By Andrew Doris

In recent days, rumors have heated up that the Mets are considering trading Daniel Murphy so they can install Eric Young Jr. as their everyday second baseman.

As I see it, there are two significant problems with this idea. The first is that Daniel Murphy is one of the few things about the Mets that isn’t completely broken, and getting rid of him would add another entry to the list of holes which need addressing on a limited budget. The second is that Eric Young Jr. is not a particularly good baseball player, particularly as in being an everyday starter.

Like most Mets fans, I admire Murphy as a person – he’s a humble, hard-working, homegrown professional with a great approach to the game. Ignoring all the stats, he’s just a fun guy to root for. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be opposed to moving Murphy if the Mets had a really good reason. The wisdom of any trade can only be assessed considering what we get in return. If Murphy were the key piece that helped us land Jose Bautista, I’m sure I could get over my sadness at seeing him go.

But if the Mets are pursuing a blockbuster, they have plenty of other pieces that trading partners would probably find more desirable. Our abundance of pitching prospects are likely much more attractive than Murphy. And even if the other team did insist on him, I’d rather see Wilmer Flores replace him than Young. At least Flores has offensive upside and growth potential, and could shift to 3B in the event of another Wright injury.

eric young

The following is a list of the things Eric Young Jr. could do well as an everyday second baseman:

1. Run.

That is all… End of list…

Young neither hits for power, nor hits for contact, nor takes many walks. Some tout him as a leadoff hitter, but both his career OBP and batting average are below the league average. At 28 years old, he’s not going to develop any further than he already has, and he certainly won’t get any faster as he ages.

In the field he is average at best. Some commentators are framing this situation as if it’s a pressing necessity that the Mets clear room for Young’s bat in the lineup, lest they waste some franchise altering talent.

I can’t for the life of me understand why they’re so infatuated. Sure, Young is the closest thing to an exciting leadoff hitter we’ve had since Jose Reyes… but considering the other leadoff hitters we’ve had since Jose Reyes, that’s not saying much.

Lest anyone doubt Young is a downgrade, the following statistics should put that to rest:

Young Jr.’s offensive stat line:

  • 2013: .249/.310/.336 (.645 OPS), 0.9 WAR
  • Career:  .258/.325/.338 (.663 OPS) 0.5 WAR

Murphy’s offensive stat line:

  • 2013: .286/.319/.415 (.733 OPS), 1.8 WAR
  • Career: .290/.333/.424 (.747 OPS), 9.0 WAR

Since that performance is completely in line with their career averages, it’s reasonable to anticipate similar production moving forward. Murphy’s defense was passable, and Young’s may not be much better. Both are the same age. The only edge Young has is baserunning; is that really enough to outweigh a difference of almost 100 OPS points?

I have nothing against Young, so long as we recognize his skill-set fits best as a bench contributor. His defensive versatility makes him a useful substitute who can play four positions in case of injury. His speed makes him a useful pinch runner. His switch hitting capabilities make him a useful pinch hitter in the late innings. But he’s simply not good enough to be an everyday starting player.

Were Murphy constantly causing headaches with off the field antics, was exceedingly expensive, or a poor clubhouse influence, I could understand the desire to trade him. But neither of those things is true. On the contrary, he’s a favorite of both the fans and his teammates.

If we have to trade him to land a superstar talent, so be it. But the fact remains that Murphy was our most dependable and productive offensive player last year, and the imposing presence of Eric Young Jr. is not a good enough reason to get rid of him.

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