At times Daniel Murphy looks like the kind of guy that can make a serious run at leading the league in hitting. He goes through stretches where it seems like he never has a bad at-bat and is at the very least a tough out for every opposing pitcher he faces. In 2011 he actually led all second basemen in hitting with a .320 average (13 points higher than Dustin Pedroia, who lead the American League). Then there are those times when he appears to be his own worst enemy and falls into the cliche of a player “trying to do too much at the plate.” Nobody will deny his work ethic or question his desire, but his consistency and his ceiling as a major league player are up for debate.
Last August, Mark Hale of the New York Post wrote of Murphy:
Murphy is one of the team’s most curious players, because as the Mets look to 2013, the second baseman represents both the known and the unknown. The known is he’s a decent major league player. The unknown is whether he’s better than that.
And Murphy — the longest-tenured Met after David Wright and Johan Santana — is going to play next year in his age-28 season, and is about to get expensive as he becomes arbitration-eligible.
So if the Mets are going to keep Murphy as their everyday second baseman going forward, they’re going to pay more money for him. Will they get a better player? And if they don’t, is what he currently gives enough?”
Well, on Wednesday the New York Mets avoided arbitration with their 27-year-old second basemen, begging the question, what's next?
hitting .291 with 6 homers and 65 RBI to go along with 10 SBs in 2012, #28 will likely need to show more in the way of consistency if he's going to convince the Mets he is the long term answer at second base.
After hitting 12 homers in 508 at-bats in his second year with New York back in 2010, some thought those power numbers would progress as time went on. While that didn't happen in 2011, as he hit just six homers in 391 at-bats before getting hurt, Murphy did see his average rise from .266 all the way to .320. I think most fans were expecting double digit homers with a .300+ average last year from Murph, but that simply didn't happen. The second basemen was on a batting average roller coaster from month to month throughout the season, hitting .303 in May, .240 in June, .360 in July, .225 in August, and .337 in September before finishing the season with a .200 average in October.
So what can fans expect from #28 in 2013? A healthy 28-year-old (by the time the season starts) who is entering his second straight year with a defined position after being jerked around the diamond for a few seasons could be poised for a breakout campaign. Given that the outfield isn't likely to carry a big punch, it will be crucial for Murphy to be a consistent run producer in the middle of the Mets line-up. It might not be too much to ask of a guy who has hit .332 with RISP over the past two seasons, but only time will tell. As for me, I'll be betting on Murphy to take the next step in 2013 just like I'll be betting on the 49'ers this Sunday when I bet on Super Bowl 2013.
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