With the calling up of highly touted prospect Wilmer Flores and the recent emergence of Ike Davis’ plate presence, Met fans might be contemplating how this team will be configured going forward in the next few months and into next season. It’s been clearly evident in the Sandy Alderson regime that the organizational backbone is to be built around the strength and depth of young starting pitching. The offensive strategic plan, however, has been a work in process. After some recent upgrades, Alderson’s roster has started to yield productivity and translate into wins for this 2013 Mets team. Yet many questions still need to be answered. One is: Is Daniel Murphy the second Baseman of the future?
Since 2008, Murphy has always been a player with a seemingly undefined role. What position does he play? Can we play him in the outfield? Can he hit for more power? These are just a few of many questions swirling around Murphy’s presence on the roster. To each, I must say, he has come through exceeding expectations. Yet why do Mets fans always seem hesitant to declare him a cemented part of this team going forward.
One reason, obviously, is the common fan’s obsession with the home run and the lack of them in Murphy’s column. If you look closer, it’s fair to say he hits for more power than most second baseman in the league. For second baseman, he currently resides in MLB’s top five in runs, hits, doubles, and extra base hits, while still cracking the top 10 in RBIs, SLG., and OPS. All while hitting predominantly out of the number two slot in the batting order. Considering these statistics are partly associated to power hitting, Murphy’s home run total of 9 through 111 games could be more revealing of how productive he actually is. 19 HR and 53 RBIs looks better than 9 HR and 53 RBIs going across the bottom of your TV screen during an at-bat, but is it really indicative of better run production?
Another reason is the looming presence of Wilmer Flores. Since he was signed as a 16 year old, Flores has flourished at every level in the minor leagues. Every pre-season, Flores has been listed on Baseball America or MLB.com’s top organizational prospect rankings. This year, he has filled out completely and has managed to lead the Pacific Coast League in RBIs. The injury to David Wright last weekend has now prompted Flores’ call up. When, the captain returns after his DL stint, Alderson and his underlings will have to map out a plan for Flores’ development. Murphy’s constant presence at second base could indeed hinder that process.
I believe Alderson and Terry Collins like Murphy and value his role with this team as a leader and productive player. On Tuesday, they witnessed the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association award Murphy with the 2013 Heart and Hustle Award. This honor is bestowed on a player from each team, who demonstrate a passion for baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game. Any fan who watches the Mets on a daily basis can see why such an award would be granted to Murphy. The intangibles he brings to the field, the love from his teammates, and his overall presence seem to exude a competitive factor this team will need going forward.
This coming offseason should answer some of the long term answers Mets fans are asking these days. Alderson has said 2014 would be the converging year of the short-term and long-term plans. Is Ike Davis the first baseman of the future? Is Wilmer Flores a first base option or second base option? What about Josh Satin, Rubin Tejada, and Lucas Duda? To these questions I have no definitive answer. There is one question I do though.
Is Daniel Murphy the second baseman of the future? YES