The season has finally begun, and the teams are off to compete for a playoff position. Of course it is early to analyze players based on a one game performance, so instead, we can have a discussion about a theme that may be going on throughout the season.
It did not mean much to see Daniel Murphy wearing a different uniform at a press conference announcing that he signed with a division rival, nor did it mean much to see him in Spring Training playing for the other team. It all made sense after yesterday’s performance with the Washington Nationals, where Murphy played a crucial part in picking up the victory. Murphy went 2-3 with a home run, two walks, and a double that scored the go-ahead run late in the game. It seems as if he had his October swing locked in and ready to go against the Atlanta Braves.
Now it is just a one game sample size, as we know what to expect from Murphy. He is going to provide some offense with some lapses in defense and base running. Athletes are human too, as Yoenis Cespedes pointed out after making an error in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals. There would be times where it was incredibly frustrating to watch Murphy, but more times than not, it was fun watching him hit.
The current Mets lineup has plenty of talent spread out from top to bottom, but there are many streaky players who strike out quite a bit. Although Murphy would not be on fire throughout the entire year, he rarely struck out and put the ball in play. Last season he only struck out 38 times while playing in 130 games. The lack of strike outs and consistent contact is what makes the Royals so dangerous, and difficult to defeat.
Sunday night’s game was difficult to watch, as David Wright struggled to catch up to the fastball, while Edison Volquez battled back from a 2-0 count with two fastballs that were blown by Cespedes. Hopefully we will be able to chalk it up to rustiness, and these players need time to get things going, but the Mets need someone who is going to provide hard contact throughout the course of the season, instead of being a team that either swings for the fences, or strikes out.
In the eighth inning, we saw the Mets string together quality at-bats, as the team was getting on base. Juan Lagares singled up the middle, followed by a Curtis Granderson walk. Wright struck out, and Cespedes took a walk. In an attempt to make something happen with the bases loaded, we saw Lucas Duda hit a soft liner over the infield, which drove in two runs. The Mets have to manufacture runs this way, instead of relying on the long ball like they did in October. Murphy fell into that category as well, as he hit seven homers in the first two rounds, then hit .150 with 0 RBIs against the Royals.
Murphy was a solid player throughout his Mets tenure, and it feels foreign seeing him play and succeed on another team. Again it is only one game, but Murphy’s bat might be missed more than we thought.