Last season, Daniel Murphy had a very challenging season. Not only was he playing in his first full season in New York’s big spotlight, but he was also asked to play a position that he’d never played before. He struggled in left field and the Mets knew that he didn’t have what it took to be a major league outfielder.
When Carlos Delgado went down, the Mets decided to try Murphy at first. Murphy played third base in the minors, so first base would be an easier transition for him. However, he still never played there and this was a new position for him.
Murphy handled this move at first extremely well and looked much more comfortable there. While Murphy had a UZR/150 of -10.4 in left field, he had a 7.6 at first base.
Murphy also had to deal with all the injuries going on around him. He managed to stay healthy the whole year, but his spot in the lineup was constantly changing and he didn’t have much protection.
For the season Murphy ended up hitting .266/.313/.427 with 12 HR and 63 RBI’s, which isn’t too bad considering everything that he had to deal with.
This offseason, Murphy continued to work out to try to improve his game. Even though he performed well at first base, he wasn’t satisfied and worked with ex-Met Gold Glove first baseman, Keith Hernandez, who is currently an announcer for SNY. He’s also changed his batting stance slightly, with a more straight up style.
CHONE predicts Murphy will hit .274/.328/.429 with 12 HR and 63 RBI. I think these numbers underestimate what Murphy will do. I see him more around .280/.340/.440 with 16 HR and 80 RBI.
Murphy is in a very difficult position with the Mets organization. He’s trying to play a position in the major leagues that he’s never played before, while trying to hit against the best pitchers in the world. Plus, he’s got Ike Davis breathing down his back, who will most likely be the Mets’ everyday first baseman in 2011.
So what’s Murphy to do? Once Davis comes up, Murphy doesn’t have a place on this team. The outfield is set with Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and Jeff Francoeur, and third base isn’t going to open up any time soon. This might be the last year we get to see Murphy in a Mets uniform. If he produces well, the Mets could trade him in the offseason and get something decent for him. From what we’ve seen of Davis in Spring Training, he looks like the real deal. I don’t like using the phrase “can’t miss prospect”, but he almost makes me want to use it.
As much as I like Murphy, I believe this will be his last year with the Mets. He’s really had a tough time in New York with situations beyond his control. But for now, he is the Mets first baseman and I’m very excited to see how he performs this season.