Give Murph a Chance: Why Daniel Murphy Is Unfairly Evaluated By Fans

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Give Murph a Chance: Why Daniel Murphy Is Unfairly Evaluated By Fans
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

        Daniel Murphy is somewhat of an interesting character. We have been told he is amazing, we have been told he is awful. He bounced around positions, 3B, LF, and 1B and we all think he can't field. We've been told he doesn't have the power to hit at first, nor the glove to survive in the OF or anywhere else for that matter. 

I have good news for you. This, for the most part, is untrue. 

      I am not here to tell you that Murphy is the next great player, or the greatest thing since sliced bread. I merely here to correct the misconception that Murphy can't, or shouldn't start at 1B next season.

      Granted in my previous article I discuss how and why there should be a Murphy-Cantu platoon next season. While I think that a plan like that would ultimately maximize production cheaply, I would not be unhappy with Murphy being the only starter at the position next season.

Here's why (and why the fans unfairly poo-poo him)

      Player 1: 16 HR 66RBI .257/.316/.411

      Player 2: 12 HR 63RBI  .266/.313/.427

     Guess who these players are. Ill give you a hint, one of them finished his career averaging 27 HR 102 RBI .277 avg per 162 games. If you guessed that player 1 is All-Star Tino Martinez and that player 2 is Daniel Murphy congratulations.

      Note, I am not saying that Murphy will definitely turn into Tino Martinez, but just take a look at these numbers. These numbers represent both player's first full seasons and both players were aged 24. Age aside, these numbers look identical. So, while this is not hard proof of anything, it is certainly an encouraging sign. 

     There is something else very encouraging about these numbers. Think about the fact that Murphy drove in all of those runs without guys like Reyes or Beltran in the order.

     Think about the fact that he saw the pitches to hit a team high (or close to) 12 HRs without any real protection in the order (although the effects of protection are somewhat debatable).

      If Murphy had the oft injured Mets healthy around him, it is entirely possible that at least his RBI numbers go up and possibly the HRs too, given that he would probably see more fastballs. 

     Moral of this part of the story is hey, the Mariners didn't give up on Tino, why should we give up on Murphy so soon?

     Back in 2008, everyone was incredibly hyped for Murphy to start in LF for 2009. People were blinded by the results of his 2008 campaign, which above all things said two things to me:

                        1) People are blinded by incredible performances in VERY small sample                             sizes

                         2) There is incredible potential in Murphy.

    The first point should be obvious. Modern economics/econometrics tell us that the human ability to observe accurately is relatively weak (see: the belief in clutchness).

     We all know that the difference between a .250 hitter and a .300 hitter is roughly 1 hit per week. Do we accurately see this? If I went to 6 games last season and saw Albert Pujols (and didnt know he was the best player on earth) go hitless in all of them, I would think he sucked.

     Obviously I would be wrong. Point being people are easily swayed by what they see, accurate or no. This is fair enough, but it gave Murphy the short end of the expectation stick. 

    With this point in mind, please don't think Josh Thole is an All Star just yet, or even truly ready for a big league job! It's just not fair.

    As to my second point, there is some connectedness to the first point. We all saw the same thing in his first stint in the big leagues.

     However, what is important to take from it, is that the ability to hit is there, his work ethic is there, his desire is there and to me most importantly his eye is too. We all saw that there is talent in him yet to be achieved. 

    So, look at Murphy's year end stats. Has anyone else looked at his stats after the all star break? 

       Just in case you haven't Ill fill you in. After the All Star break, Murphy hit 7 HRs 35 RBI .282/.313/.485. These are encouraging numbers as it would appear he turned a corner.

       Major league pitching had taken advantage of the holes in his game, but he seemed to have adapted to it as well. 

       Now, please don't hit me. 

      Daniel Murphy has a DAMN GOOD GLOVE. What?! You dont believe me? 

      Just forget the left field experiment. That failed horribly. But lets take a look at what I consider to be the best fielding metric available, not errors but UZR/150. UZR/150 is the ultimate zone rating per 150 games.

      More specifically UZR/150 is, according to Fangraphs.com, The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, per 150 defensive games. 

      In left field Murphy was horrid, scoring a -10.6 UZR/150.

       However, at first Murphy was...spectacular. In his 97 games started (101 games played) at first he didn't apparently qualify for the league leader board but the numbers are startling.

      The league leader at 1st base for UZR/150 was Kendry Morales who had a 4.4. 

      Daniel Murphy scored a 5.6. Yes, Murphy was worth the most runs in baseball at first base. 

'nuff said. 

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