This past Monday the New York Mets were trailing by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning to the San Francisco Giants looking to split the four game series. With two out and no one on, who steps up to the plate but the one batter we all have had faith in time and time again for the past few seasons and more particularly, this season, Daniel Murphy.
It wasn’t always that way, though. For several years the fans and the team alike have looked to one player to be that unifying force that will step up and not just lead but respond to the pressure of big situations. That player has been David Wright. For the past few years, however, he has been anything but clutch.
This season, like the past few, he has had nagging injuries to play his way through. As our own Patrick Albanesius wrote the other day, his shoulder, by Wright’s own admission, has been an issue. Wright is batting ,270 with eight home runs and 54 RBI. Nowhere close to the numbers we’re used to and certainly not what we expect from the captain of our team.
Murphy, in comparison, is batting .302 with nine home runs and 48 RBI. While the home runs and RBI totals are similar, the batting average is much wider with Murphy carrying a distinct advantage. Furthermore, Murphy has a .347 on base percentage and a .437 slugging percentage compared to Wright’s .328 and .385 respectively.
In addition, Murphy has 62 strikeouts to Wright’s 88. Murphy has worked hard to become the hitter he is today and equally hard to be an adequate fielder. He began the season standing up to management and media by choosing his family over his career when his wife was giving birth during the season opener. He redeemed himself by hitting his way onto the All Star team for the first time in his career.
While it’s easy to recognize why David Wright is a fan favorite (grew up a Mets fan, drafted by the team, etc), just being a fan favorite isn’t reason enough to be a captain. He works hard off the field to be the face of the franchise. He keeps his nose clean and his name out of the headlines.
However, it may be time for the team to realize that his best years are possibly behind him and there are others worthy of the captain moniker as well. Murphy has worked just as hard off the field and has been equally successful in keeping out of trouble.
Perhaps the captainship could be shared as it has been in the past. At the very least, the team needs to show Murphy the respect that he has earned and sign him long-term. He has shown that he more than deserves that. He is part of the present team success and should be part of the future team plans and not just as trade bait.
It’s time for the team to embrace other players as the face of their franchise. One of those faces they should consider is Daniel Murphy.