Today’s Rising Apple Season in Review takes a look at one of the Mets’ consistently streaky but good hitters: Daniel Murphy. Two seasons after sloppy infield play and an unfortunate August injury, Murph completed his second full season at second base, and in between the Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade and David Wright’s late-season return from the DL, Daniel was (in?)arguably New York’s best hitter.
How He Handled the Bat
Murphy appeared in 161 games, starting 155, and finished 2013 with a triple stash of .286/.319/.415, nearly identical to his .291/.332/.403 line in 2012. His 38 doubles were just two below his previous mark of 40. As Ron Darling predicted during the first weekend of the season, Murph showed major improvement in his power numbers: he smashed 13 home runs in 2013, more than doubling his 2012 total (6), and drove in 78 runs (a 13-RBI progression). Daniel also had a career year running the bases, swiping 23 bags to more than double his career total (20 stolen bases came after Eric Young’s arrival on Harvey-Wheeler Day).
As has been an issue in years past, a lack of consistency again plagued Murphy in 2013. He hit .304 through April and May but saw his average drop to .270 by the All-Star Break thanks to a .230 June and early July. His average stayed about level for the next month as he hit .278 through August 28, but Murph surged the last month of the season, hitting .344 in his final 31 games.
Murphy’s Glory Day of 2013 came on July 26 in Washington, when he lit up the Nationals to the tune of two home runs and five RBIs, along with an additional run and two more hits. The Mets took major advantage of Daniel’s hot bat in an 11-0 victory at Nationals Park – the beneficiary of such offense was Jenrry Mejia, who tossed seven shutout innings in his season debut.
How He Handled the Glove
Murphy started 148 games at second base, with the other seven coming at first. His numbers were not great (16 errors, -13 defensive runs saved). However, Daniel’s greatest problem earlier in his career was a lack of permanent position – 2011 saw him play significant time at first, second, and third – and after two straight years of being Mr. Second Base, Murph has seemed to get the hang of it. Surely he will never win a Gold Glove, but he is now a serviceable major league infielder, and his bat certainly makes up for his relative lack of glove.
Projected Role in 2014
Murphy will turn 29 next April 1, and if he is a New York Met, he will start Opening Day as the team’s second baseman.
Contract Status and Trade Rumors
Murphy is eligible for arbitration next season and will become a free agent in 2016. While one of the team’s stronger bats at the moment, Murph is consistently mentioned in potential trades, as he has been all season. While Daniel swings a good bat and made improvements in power and speed in 2013, he does not pack enough punch in either category to justify building the offense around him. New York needs a power bat, and with Eric Young and Wilmer Flores able to fill in at second, Murphy is expendable, and Adam Rubin confirmed after the season that the Mets will listen to offers.
Overall, the odds are probably 50/50 that the Mets will continue to say #ImWith28. Fans will likely welcome Daniel Murphy warmly back should he return to the Mets in 2014, but they should also understand and be content should he become part of an offseason deal.