It’s been going on for over a year now, but the multitude of man-crushes heaped upon Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy still perplexes me. There is, of course, the website ohmurph.com, which has apparently decided to take it up a notch and literally sniff the inside of Murphy’s cleats.
But it’s not just these guys. Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog.com, which is probably the best place to go to gauge the opinions of the average Mets fan, will not give up on Murphy. Yesterday, Cerrone wrote (italics and lack of caps his):
i think, with protection in the lineup, and a more stable season, using what he’s learned and lived through this year, murphy can hit above .280 with at least 30 doubles…
I have several issues with this mindset. For one, Murphy is on pace to hit 34 doubles already this year, so he’s already hit one of those qualifiers and we’re still not happy with his performance. He’s also on pace to have 510 ABs, which means that for him to bat over .280, he would have had to have roughly 145 hits. So assuming that he won’t magically become speedier and start racking up triples, in Cerrone’s estimation (he also thinks Murphy can hit 15HRs), Mets fans can hope for 232 total bases (92 from singles, 68 from doubles, 12 from triples, and 60 from HRs). Over 510 ABs, that’s a .454 slugging percentage… which would be “good” enough for 20th among the 24 qualified first basemen in 2009.
What about OBP in this instance? If he maintains his current walk rate of 7.5% as well as his HBP and sac fly numbers, that would still only give him a .334 OBP, which is 22nd among the 24 qualified first basemen. And what if I were to assume that his walk rate will improve to say 8.5%? That’s a .346 OBP (21st out of 24).
So really, even in this possible-but-optimistic scenario, Daniel Murphy would still be among the worst regular first basemen in baseball. And it’s not like his minor league numbers were good enough to project him as an average first baseman so his current performance is really what you’d expect against superior pitching. He can potentially give you numbers that would be quite good if he were a middle infielder. Problem is, he’s not. He wasn’t able to handle third base in the minors so they moved him to left. He couldn’t cut it there either so they moved him to first and now he has nowhere else to go.
Despite their troubles, perhaps the best thing that the Mets have going for themselves is the abundance of talent at premium positions. With third base (Wright), shortstop (Reyes) and centerfield (Beltran) all manned by potential All-Stars, the Mets have a distinct advantage over many teams that would kill to have that nucleus. But by running guys like Murphy, Jeff Francoeur, and Angel Pagan out there to play positions typically fielded by the best hitters that MLB has, they give that advantage right back. I’m not saying that the Mets need Albert Pujols. But if they’re serious about winning in 2010, they should have someone better than Daniel Murphy at first.