Year in Review: Daniel Murphy

By Danny Abriano

Continuing our player by player year in review series, below is a glimpse at what Daniel Murphy accomplished in 2012, and what should be expected going into next season.  Murphy has always been able to handle the stick, but many writers and fans alike scoffed at the notion of Murphy as a second baseman.  Coming into the year, the Mets were hoping for Murphy to be adequate at second base, while continuing to hit for average.  Here’s how he did:

How he handled the bat:

What Daniel Murphy lacked in power, he made up for a bit by smacking 40 doubles.  Overall, he hit .292 with a .339 OBP.  The OBP will need to rise if Murphy continues to not be much of a power threat.  However, a hitter like Murphy is valuable.  Unlike many other power deprived middle infielders who most would call pesky, Murphy often smokes the ball (just not over the fence).  His LD (line drive) percentage was 24.3%, a big improvement over his 2011 LD% of 21.9% and his 2009 LD% of 18.7%.  If Murphy can improve his OBP and continue to hit for average while racking up tons of doubles, there’s no reason why he can’t stick at second base going forward.

Sep 11, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) reacts after scoring during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

How he handled the glove:

As was mentioned above, most people thought Daniel Murphy would be a train-wreck at second base.  I wasn’t one of them.  Murphy’s natural position is third base, and he always looked most comfortable there (better than he looked at first base, much better than he looked in the outfield).  Murphy doesn’t have soft hands, he isn’t graceful, and he doesn’t have lots of range (hence the reason why he plays so deep at second).  Still, what he did defensively this year was impressive.  He seemed to get more comfortable as the year went on.  He made nearly every routine play, showed a strong arm, eventually became adept at turning the double play (he still leaves himself in vulnerable spots with the runner bearing down on him, which he’ll need to improve on), and committed 15 errors.  The error total will need to go down.  Considering Murphy’s work ethic, and since he appeared to get more comfortable at second base as the year went on, I expect it will.

Projected role in 2013:

During the 2012 campaign, Jordany Valdespin showed flashes of ability while also showing that he’s still incredibly raw.  Beyond that, it was reported that he had a bit of an attitude problem.  Reese Havens is close to being written off.  So, it appears Daniel Murphy will enter 2013 as the Mets’ starting second baseman.  And there’s nothing wrong with Murphy at second base.  The problem, is relying on Murphy to be one of the team’s top offensive producers.  He’s known for saying “I’m Daniel Murphy and I hit third.”  Still, he’d be an asset if the Mets surrounded him with some power and let him do what he does best: Spray line drives, while playing his gritty brand of baseball.

Contract status and trade rumors:

Sandy Alderson is on record stating that there needs to be serious roster turnover.  One would expect, though, that the turnover is most likely to occur in the outfield and the bullpen.  I wouldn’t be stunned if the Mets traded Daniel Murphy, but with his lack of power, I don’t think many teams will be clamoring for him to be their third baseman (where he’s proven to be average defensively).  Murphy is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason.  He made $512,000 in 2012, so his salary will rise a bit going into 2013.  It’s a no-brainer for the Mets to offer him arbitration.  If Jordany Valdespin blossoms, or another player comes out of nowhere to claim second base, Murphy would still be an asset as a jack of all trades sort who can play second, third, first, and left field.  For now, though, he’s the starting second baseman.