Daniel Murphy is a good baseball player. What holds him back from getting to the next level is his lack of baseball I.Q. Right now in the regular season the Mets may still be willing to put up with it but walking off the field a few Tuesday’s ago, after he thought the third out was recorded, and then trying to get back in the play only to be tagged out should be the last straw. The 5-4-6 double play was yet another embarrassment that has plagued Murphy throughout his career but a lot this season. Then he flubbed a double play that led to to the Los Angeles Dodgers clinching home field and the Mets losing to the Nationals via a Bryce Harper home run.
Games are getting more important. Runs will get scarce. Making errors, or poor judgement in the field (no stat for that) and having base running gaffs can cost you a series and when the playoffs start that can get you sent home. Mets manager Terry Collins is very loyal but he has to know this is something that can really cost the team down the stretch while they are trying to clinch and then in the most important games.
Here are some stats to help prove my point. He has no hits, 0-20 with a 2-0 count. He has never been in a 3-0 count all season long. In 459 at-bats so far, to me that’s staggering. Hey, he’s hitting .308 with runners in scoring position so that’s good but there’s more bad stuff.
Headed into the last 4 home games, at home Murphy was hitting .252 with 6 homers and 34 RBI. Wilmer Flores was hitting .239 in less time at home but has 8 homers and 27 RBI in 222 at-bats, a few less than Murphy so I can see why he hasn’t stolen the job. But what about Kelly Johnson? He’s was hitting .269 with 2 homers and 8 RBI in just 67 at-bats. Maybe he should get in more games at second? Johnson has a .978 fielding percentage at 2B. Murphy is a .976 and Flores is perfect at 2B with 22 double plays to his credit. My point is Murphy shouldn’t be a guaranteed starter and Flores and Johnson should see more.
Maybe Flores gets the odd start at shortstop but Ruben Tejada has been their best fielding player there and deserves to be the starter in most games. Maybe Flores could be the late inning defensive replacement at 2B and that will get Murphy out of there in some spots where he may have some more vapor lock.
The Mets have a lot of infield depth and it’s fantastic. Johnson should play a bit more. He has playoff experience and Murphy has none. I’m not saying keep Murphy out all together. I’m saying he has to be limited a bit more down the stretch, until they clinch, and then in the playoffs. The Oakland A’s ousted second baseman Mike Andrews after he made a few key errors in the ’73 series and I’d hate to see that happen with Murphy.
Collins will have to make some tough decisions if Murphy falters in a playoff game. He gets some key hits but these other shortcomings come at a price as well. Coming out of a game early for defensive purposes is one thing. Let’s see if he loses any starts if these gaffes continue.