Murphy has worked very hard to become a good defensive second baseman. He has battled knee problems, and the presence of other players, among other aspects to get to where he currently is.
Murphy's hitting has never been the issue. In his first three full seasons (2009, 2011-2012), Murphy has put together a .292 average, 24 home runs and 177 RBI. This includes a .320 average and .362 OBP in 2011, which has been his best offensive season so far.
Murphy, though, stayed healthy for all of 2012 and played in 156 games. It was certainly an encouraging sign that Murphy's defense had improved a lot, and that he can possibly become an elite second baseman in a very short amount of time.
Here are three reasons why Murphy will continue to improve as a player.
Brandon Phillips is arguably the best second baseman in the National League.
With Brandon Phillips arguably being the most well-rounded second baseman in the National League, there is certainly an opportunity this year for Murphy to become a top-five or even top-three second baseman in the National League.
In 2012, among National League second basemen with 500 at-bats or more, Murphy was third in average, fourth in hits, second in doubles, sixth in RBI, tied for eighth in stolen bases, sixth in OBP and fifth in slugging percentage.
There, of course, are 16 teams in the National League, but those statistics show that Murphy is definitely among the elite second basemen in the Senior Circuit.
With Marco Scutaro aging, and Dan Uggla, Rickie Weeks and Danny Espinosa all not particularly consistent at the plate, Murphy should be one of the most consistent offensive second basemen for years to come.
Murphy has already shown that he can be productive at any spot in the lineup.
For most of his career, he has batted second in the lineup. In that slot over his career, Murphy has started 140 games with a .299 average, .352 OBP, seven home runs and 50 RBI. Murphy has batted there quite often because he can hit and he is good at moving runners over as more of a singles and doubles hitter.
Murphy, though, can also hit well in the lower spots of the lineup. In the fifth slot, Murphy has batted .300 with a .355 OBP, three home runs and 46 RBI in 92 starts. In the sixth slot, Murphy has batted .248 with a .305 OBP, four home runs and 23 RBI in 43 starts.
Murphy has made some appearances in the seventh (24 starts) and eighth (19 starts) slots as well, with a .358 and .400 average, respectively. Some players are more or less a one-dimensional hitter that is best suited at one specific spot in the lineup. Murphy, on the other hand, can fit in anywhere in the lineup and produce no matter what, which is always nice for a team to have.
Defensively, Murphy is still a work-in-progress at second base, but he has looked a lot more comfortable at second base in 2012, compared to 2011, even if some statistics state otherwise.
Murphy was supposed to be the Mets' regular second baseman in 2011, but after Ike Davis and, later, David Wright both got hurt, Murphy spent more time at first and third base for the rest of that season. As a result, Murphy made just 24 appearances at second base that year, before a knee injury while turning a double play in August ended his season.
For the 2011 season, Murphy had two errors and a .978 fielding percentage as a second baseman. In 2012, Murphy was the Mets' regular second baseman throughout the entire season. In 138 games at the position, Murphy had a .974 fielding percentage, which was among the worst for National League second basemen. He also made 15 errors, which was second worst in the National League. Rickie Weeks of the Brewers had 16 errors.
Yet, despite those relatively poor totals, Murphy looked a lot more comfortable at second base. He made great diving plays more often than most would have expected. But most importantly, Murphy avoided any trips to the disabled list this time around. It showed that he had really learned how to turn double plays and that the Mets and their fans should expect even more improvement this year.