Daniel Murphy was the Mets’ 13th-round draft choice in 2006 whom two years later became the 16,977th player ever to don a major league uniform.
How’s that for an ambiguous MLB genesis?
After Murphy’s promising first 201 games with the Mets, what could go wrong, did.
Murphy started 101 games at first base in 2009, then nearly became a small footnote in baseball’s encyclopedia the following spring training after suffering an untimely right-knee sprain during the final week of camp.
In only his second rehabilitative minor league start in June of that year, Murphy re-injured himself during a slide play at second base — a position he was still attempting to learn. A resulting high-grade tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee ended Murphy’s season.
All the while, Ike Davis was enjoying an intriguing 2010 debut at Murphy’s unfortunate expense.
In the ensuing years, Ike Davis fizzled out, while Murphy became the Mets’ starting second baseman — despite much fan consternation over his less-than-par glove and footwork around the bag.
At the time, there was little worry Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes would continue contributing. We hoped for the best with regards to David Wright and urged more playing time for Michael Conforto. We additionally decided Travis d’Arnaud was a key offensive component and discussed Wilmer Flores‘ potential effect at shortstop.
Even after his NLDS exploits, Murphy’s name remained largely under spoken — and not just by us. He’s never been one to capture national headlines. But by the end of Sunday night’s Game 2 of the NLCS, the entire baseball community knew his name.
That’s because the Mets second baseman is enjoying one of the more surreal postseasons 16,976 players ever experienced before his arrival, or by the roughly 2,000 players that have debuted since.
He’s effectively become baseball’s latest proverbial player-you-never-saw-coming whom causes the most damage.
To date, the Mets have played seven playoff games, and Murphy has hit safely in all of them. He’ll need no license or special permission to pack a .357 batting average for this trip to the Windy City. Rightfully, denizens of the friendly confines should beware. The National League’s best arms have tried restraining him, and failed. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta all took their turns with similarly disappointing results.
He’ll arrive at Wrigley Field on Tuesday for Game 3 of the NLCS.
Murphy has been on similar streaks throughout the season, and some Mets fans even feel they sensed this one coming.
From May 21 through May 29, Murphy put together an eight-game hitting streak (.482), that garnered no home runs and four RBI. In fact, it’s worth noting Murphy did not hit his fifth home run of the season until July 5, in what was then his 61st game of the season.
Murphy missed the next two weeks with a quad strain which kept him idle till July 29. The trade deadline followed shortly thereafter, which obviously beefed up the line-up. Suffice to say, perhaps no one has benefited from the addition of Cespedes more than Murphy.
He put together a 10-game hitting streak spanning Aug. 2 through Aug. 14, in which he batted .395 with four home runs and seven RBI.
In late September, he embarked on an even longer 12-game hitting streak that ended on Oct. 3, but not before posting a .395 average with three more home runs and 10 RBI.
All told, Murphy ended the regular season hitting .281, but finished up his last 59 games hitting .296, while eight of his 12 regular season home runs, and 37 of his 73 regular season RBI came after Aug. 1. That goes a long way towards explaining Murphy’s prodigious exploits over the last seven games.
Murphy said his ability to get his front foot down a little sooner in his swing has keyed his recent success. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t care if was getting rubbed down with a chicken before games by Jobu himself …
He leads the Mets this postseason with 28 at-bats, 10 hits, five home runs, eight RBI, 26 total bases, and a .929 slugging average.
Flushing’s faithful might recall how Carlos Beltran parlayed a brilliant 2004 playoff run with the Houston Astros into a long-term, big-money free-agent deal with the Mets. Murphy is presently playing under similar circumstances. However, I remain skeptical regarding his monetary value on the open market.
The free-agent qualifying offer has already been set above $15 million dollars, meanwhile ownership is still juggling major debt. Therefore, their money requires wise spending, as priorities will continue outweighing luxuries for years to come.
Although that situation is forthcoming, for the moment I have the matter safely chained up in the furthest recesses of my mind. The business side of baseball imposes its will upon us as it is. And knowing how infrequent these playoff runs are, I’m not letting myself get consumed by off-field minutiae quite yet. That will only burglarize us of our fullest joy (for as long as this lasts).
I am prepared to say retaining Cespedes is imperative towards any continued success. Despite Murphy’s present romp, the Mets need a premiere slugger the likes of Cespedes first, and a complimentary player like Murphy, second.
There’s the rub …
The various players he’s been surrounded with through the years have largely shaped our perception. If forced to play a leading role, he’ll disappoint. As we’ve seen, when left free to be a complimentary player, Murphy is outstanding.