On Wednesday in game four, Daniel Murphy set the record for consecutive postseason games with a home run, hitting a dinger in six straight games and breaking Carlos Beltran’s previous record. He was named the NLCS MVP for his four home runs and .529 batting average against the Cubs, and placed himself in the same category as other surprise playoff performers such as Cody Ross, David Justice, David Freese and Scott Spiezio, to name a few. Murphy is a free agent after this year, and the Mets’ front office has stated that it will not resign Murphy. However, with this latest power surge, some want the Mets to resign him, leading to an intense debate.
Daniel Murphy was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on April 1, 1985. A hometown kid, he played baseball at Englewood High School on the south side of the city, and played college ball at Jacksonville University, the only Division I program to offer him a scholarship. He played third mostly, and won the A-Sun Baseball Player of the Year as a junior in 2006 after batting .398. He was drafted that year by the Mets in the 13th round, and was in the majors two years later, making his debut on August 2, 2008. His first few years were injury-riddled, and he missed most of 2010 and 2011 with MCL injuries. He began to grow into his own in 2012, settling in at second base instead of his natural third base position, taken by David Wright. In 2014, he was named to his first All-Star game by compiling 105 hits, which was the second most in the NL at the time, and batting .295. In 2015, he often played third base due to Wright’s spinal stenosis, and at first base due to injuries of Lucas Duda. He entered the playoffs batting .281, with 140 hits and 14 home runs.
Murphy is not a power guy by any means. Murphy is more of a contact hitter than anything else, swatting singles and doubles into right and center field. He’s also the hardest batter to strike out in the MLB, with a 7.1 strikeout rate. Unfortunately, he’s a below average fielder, a label that has haunted him since college. Once the postseason came about, the perception changed of what kind of player Daniel Murphy is. Of his seven home runs in October, five came against Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, the first three pitchers being serious candidates for this year’s NL Cy Young Award. The one simple reason for this power surge is slugger Yoenis Cespedes. With Murphy batting ahead of Cespedes, pitchers give Murph better pitches to hit, rather than giving those pitches to the Cuban cleanup hitter. Yet, Murphy has proven that there is still some pop in his bat that was previously overlooked.
So where do the Mets go with Murphy? Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is another daunting free agent for the team. The idea of losing the three-four punch in the batting order of the Mets should scare them into signing at least one of the two. This is a team that no longer seems to be hampered by the financial restrictions of the Madoff Ponzi Scheme. They probably could sign both to long term deals, but then again, it probably wouldn’t be wise to have the team wearing out six year deals to veteran players past their prime (Exhibit A: the Philadelphia Phillies) by the time the 2020s roll around. The Mets are content with their middle infielders now. The team feels that it has its second basemen of the future in Dilson Herrera, acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade. Herrera, while small in size, has a bit of pop in his bat and can eventually provide the same style of hitting as Murphy currently does. If he cannot fill in immediately, Flores or Tejada can take over at second for the time being.
What Daniel Murphy is doing this October is incredible, considering the player he really is and the pitchers that he has faced. It’s fun to watch from a fan’s perspective, but the reality is that it will be over soon, come the final game of the World Series. He has been attached to rumors of interest from the Angels, Dodgers, White Sox, Indians and even their World Series counterpart, the Royals. It may be for the best that Murphy is gone after the year, as a better player might be on the horizon. It may even help in bringing Cespedes in, whether that is just a pipe dream or a realistic possibility. The Mets seem to be a team primed for greatness for years to come, with their phenomenal young pitching and abundance of money. All the Mets can do now is watch Murphy play, with hopes he brings the Commissioner’s trophy back to Flushing.
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