Last year the Mets got rotten offensive production from the second base position. It did not matter who they threw out there, that person could not hit. Now when I say that, an idea probably comes into your mind of a couple of guys being bad and dragging down everyone else’s numbers. But that’s not the case, as everyone who trotted out to second base seemingly swung with a bat made out of balsa wood.

Here are the offensive numbers of the team’s second basemen in 2010:

Rk G PA AB R HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1 Luis Hernandez 10 34 32 3 1 4 1 0 1 6 .250 .294 .375 .669 .280
2 Luis Castillo 72 287 236 27 0 16 8 3 39 21 .242 .347 .275 .622 .263
3 Ruben Tejada 48 155 137 18 0 8 0 1 12 19 .226 .301 .307 .607 .261
4 Justin Turner 1 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200 .200 .400 .600 .200
5 Alex Cora 43 158 144 11 0 18 4 1 9 12 .208 .261 .271 .532 .224
6 Fernando Tatis 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 .000
7 Joaquin Arias 9 21 20 1 0 1 0 0 1 5 .150 .190 .200 .390 .200
Team Total 162 662 575 61 1 48 13 5 63 63 .226 .307 .285 .592 .250
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2011.

Now, it did not take a genius to expect that the Mets would get better production from the position in 2011. Only Brad Emaus, the guy they picked to be the Opening Day starter, was even worse. A lot of people were upset because Emaus did not get a long look at the job, but given what the Mets received last year, is it really so surprising that they cut ties with a guy who would have stood out for being bad among last year’s putrid hitters?

Overall this year, the Mets’ second base production has been slightly better than last year. But as we can see, the team has three players whose output would be at home with the 2010 misfits and one player who is doing great.

Rk G PA AB R HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1 Dan Murphy 16 61 55 8 1 8 1 1 4 6 .291 .361 .455 .815 .313
2 Justin Turner 4 15 14 0 0 1 0 1 1 2 .214 .267 .214 .481 .250
3 Brad Emaus 11 39 34 2 0 1 0 0 4 7 .147 .256 .147 .403 .185
4 Chin-lung Hu 4 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333 .333
Team Total 28 121 109 11 1 10 1 2 9 18 .229 .306 .312 .618 .267
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2011.

Murphy, the only player who is hitting, has still not been anointed as the team’s full-time starter. Currently, he is in a platoon with Turner. The Mets did not give him an honest shot to win the job in Spring Training, as they wanted him to be a super-sub. Allegedly, they were worried about his ability to handle the position defensively.

With very little professional experience to go by to accurately judge Murphy’s defensive performance, the club wasted defensive reps in Spring Training on players who had no chance to make the Opening Day roster. Instead, they just declared him to be sub-par defensively and that was that.

Now, the public has seen Murphy in the field and we’re able to make our own judgments. While he will not make anyone forget Frank White, his glove is more than adequate for the position. So, did Murphy improve dramatically in the last, I don’t know, 30 days? Or were his defensive problems overblown to begin with? Or, is the current braintrust incapable of making accurate decisions of this type?

It would be one thing if this was an isolated incident. But we just have to look back to last year, when the Mets decided that Josh Thole could not handle things defensively and wasted half a year on over-the-hill veterans with good reputations.

Rk G PA AB R HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1 Josh Thole 58 211 188 16 3 14 1 0 22 23 .271 .351 .367 .718 .296
2 Rod Barajas 69 266 248 30 12 34 0 0 8 39 .226 .264 .415 .679 .220
3 Henry Blanco 43 141 127 10 2 8 1 0 11 25 .213 .270 .299 .569 .243
4 Mike Nickeas 4 9 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .222 .222 .222 .444 .400
Team Total 162 627 572 56 17 56 2 0 41 91 .238 .294 .371 .665 .253
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2011.

When Thole was given a shot, we saw that his defense was much better than advertised. His defense was so good, that he became the personal catcher for a knuckleball pitcher, typically the hardest guy on the staff to catch.

Defense is important and the last thing I want to see is a bunch of guys in the field who turn every ball into an adventure. But offense is important, too. The next time the Mets have a player who can hit but the brass says can’t field the position, let’s not be so quick to swallow the company line of thinking. Let’s see what the player can do with the glove on his hand in real games before we declare him a defensive liability, like so many did with Murphy and Thole.

That is unless you enjoy the offensive exploits of post-April Barajas or Blanco or Castillo or Tejada or Hernandez or Arias or…

2 comments on “Murphy, Thole remind Mets offense is important, too

  • JoeBourgeois

    Little logical problem here.

    “were [Murphy’s] defensive problems overblown to begin with? Or, is the current braintrust incapable of making accurate decisions of this type? It would be one thing if this was an isolated incident. But we just have to look back to last year, when the Mets decided that Josh Thole could not handle things defensively”

    In case you still don’t see it, as far as the current braintrust is concerned, Murphy IS an isolated incident.

    • Brian Joura

      Well, it’s not like Terry Collins wasn’t in the organization last year.

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