New York Mets: What Do the Mets Have in Daniel Murphy?
"My name is Daniel Murphy and I bat third."
Those were the confident words spoken by the current second baseman of the New York Mets upon his introduction to his teammates at the University of Jacksonville.
Many people will agree that Daniel Murphy will play a vital part of the Mets season if they are to continue to contend in the NL East.
But what exactly will he contribute?
This is the first season that Murphy has appeared comfortable at a position. He was moved from his natural third-base position upon his arrival in the big leagues in 2008 thanks to a man named David Wright.
"Murph" made an immediate impact with his bat, even during the Mets second consecutive collapse. He endeared himself to the Shea-faithful with his tremendous hustle and he really impressed me with his pinch-hit opposite field home run off lefty Renyel Pinto of the Florida Marlins at age 23.
The Mets attempted to use him in left field, hoping his offense would be utilized and he would find a semblance of comfort zone. That was not successful, just ask Johan about that sunny April day in Miami.
In 2009, the Mets moved him to first base after the season-ending injury to Carlos Delgado. His results were mixed, compiling a .266 average to go along with a team-leading 12 home runs and 63 RBI in 503 plate appearances.
It is natural for 24-year-olds to suffer through growing pains, but that type of production is not acceptable in the middle of the order, which he occupied much of the season.
IS Murphy's offense enough to mitigate his mediocre glove?
Entering 2010, the Mets were planning to use Murphy as the everyday first baseman once again but he suffered a gruesome knee injury during spring training which kept him out of action for a few months.
While he was attempting to make a comeback, Ike Davis emerged as the Mets first baseman and the team opted to try Murphy at second base. While he was attempting to turn a double play during his rehabilitation assignment, he tore his MCL which ended his attempt for a return.
He began the 2011 season on an incredible hitting tear, and was among the league leaders in batting average at .320 through 109 games.
Once again, he was hit with another dose of bad luck and was taken out on a hard slide by Jose Constanza of the Atlanta Braves which tore his MCL and ended his fantastic season.
Even for the optimistic Murphy, it had to be a great blow to his confidence.
This season, the Mets made him earn the second-base job during spring training, which is a credit to the work ethic of Murphy who worked hard at becoming a competent fielder.
Thus far, Murphy has recorded six errors which computes to a .971 fielding percentage. The Mets may never turn him into Edgardo Alfonzo in the field, but they can live with his mediocre defense as long as he produces with the bat.
Murphy has been a consistent bat in the middle of the lineup along with David Wright, but a .719 OPS with zero home runs and 13 extra-base hits is not overwhelming.
Daniel will continue to be lauded for his hard work and his intensity, but the Mets will need him to perform to the standards of his 2011 season—which included an .809 OPS with 36 extra-base hits prior to his injury—if they are to live with his defense.
Which Daniel Murphy will the Mets be getting the rest of the season?
I predict his power numbers will increase, he will eclipse 30 doubles, but he must reach the seats a few times if the Mets offense is to keep their collective heads above water.
Mets fans love Murphy for his business attitude, with Keith Hernandez perhaps leading his fan club, but he really needs to begin hitting more like the Daniel Murphy that entered the University of Jacksonville and declared himself worthy of a batting spot without the need of using his glove.
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