Quick Hits: Daniel Murphy’s Season Is Everything It Appears To Be (and more)

By: Brian Mangan

Over at Mets360 (a great site, check it out), author Joe Vasile argues that Daniel Murphy’s game “has a flaw” which makes his performance not as great as it appears “on the surface.”

Murphy’s game, however has a flaw that unless fixed, will prevent him from joining the ranks of the truly elite hitters at second base like Brandon PhillipsRobinson Cano, and Dustin Pedroia: his walk rate is alarmingly low.

The problem is not only that it’s low, but that it’s taken a significant dip this season, from 5.9% last season to a career low 4.0% through 54 games played this season.

Although Vasile is undoubtedly correct in that Murphy would probably benefit from walking more, the article serves primarily to point out exactly how excellent Murphy has been this season.

As Mets360 points out, “Murphy sported a .291/.323/.441 slash line and ranked sixth or better amongst second basemen in Major League Baseball in batting average (6th), slugging percentage (6th), fWAR (1.7, 5th), and surprisingly UZR (3.1, 4th).”

However both the sabermetric crowd and regular fans suffer from the same, human flaw: the tendency to look at something good, and wish that it was better, all the while missing the forest for the trees.  

Could Murph still elevate his game?  Perhaps.  But as of now, he’s FIFTH in all of baseball in WAR among second baseman, despite his .323 on-base percentage.   He’s fourth among all second basemen in runs despite playing for a team that can barely score, probably because he is so adept at getting himself into scoring position (his 18 doubles rank him first at his position).

Most amazingly of all, Murphy’s tenacity has seen him develop into an average defender at second base, something few would have envisioned four years ago (and he passes the eye test, too).  He is no longer a hitter masquerading as a second baseman — he is a legitimate defender who can swing the bat along with the best at his position.

Instead of talking about Daniel Murphy‘s flaws, maybe we should be talking about how he is one of the National League’s best second baseman and has an argument that he deserves to be named to the All-Star team[1].

*                      *                     *

Brian Mangan is an attorney and lifelong Mets fan, and promises that his shared Irish heritage has nothing to do with the contents of this article.


[1] Matt Carpenter leads NL second baseman in WAR with 2.5, Brandon Phillips is second with 2.1, and Murphy is third with 1.6.  The other prominent second basemen reside in the American league (Pedroia, Cano, Lowrie, Kipnis, Kinsler).