Daniel Murphy: What Position?

No one really disputes the fact that the Mets will be looking to trade Daniel Murphy. It is a team with weaknesses, while the one position where Murphy has excelled so far, first base, now appears to be the province of Ike Davis.

Murphy lost that first base job due to a knee injury, but as he prepares for a return to Triple-A Buffalo, the Mets still don't seem sure about where to play him. Here are the various positional options, along with what kind of trade value Murphy will likely provide should he take to them, from best to worst:

Second base: this is the best the Mets can hope for, and should be the position Daniel Murphy plays with Triple-A Buffalo. If Murphy can become merely adequate at the position, his bat profiles extremely well for long-term success at the position.

As a group, major league second basemen posted an OPS+ of an even 100, while Murphy, in his first 707 plate appearances, has an OPS+ of 103. In other words, Murphy, should he fail to develop any further as a hitter, would already be an above-average hitting second baseman. That would draw quite a bit of trade interest, and with the Mets lacking an obvious internal option to fill the position long-term, could even keep Murphy with the Mets.

Third base: The case here is similar to the one for second base, with some additional pluses. Like second basemen, third basemen hit for just an OPS+ of 101 in 2009, so Murphy is already an average bat at the position. Another advantage is that Murphy was a third basemen through most of his minor league career- 196 of his 230 defensive games in the minors were played at third base- so this would represent the least difficult transition for Murphy, defensively.

The case against is that a move to third base would only be a preliminary move to trading Murphy, with the current position on the Mets obviously taken.

First base: This is one of the three lesser options the Mets can take. On the plus side, Murphy showed he can clearly handle the position of first base defensively last season- despite some gaffes that naturally result from being thrown into a new position midway through a baseball season, Murphy posted impressive defensive numbers there.

The big problem is how his offense translates to first base. As a group, first basemen had an OPS+ of 125 last season. Considering that Murphy's career OPS+ is 103, it is unlikely, but not impossible, for Murphy to improve to the point of being an average offensive first baseman. But with second base and third base options for Murphy as well, this seems like a strange fit.

Left field: This one makes very little sense. Murphy, simply put, was not a left fielder when given the every day job out of spring training in 2009. His numbers were poor, and his instincts seemed particularly ill-suited for the position.

What's worse, his offense doesn't fit in left field, either. Left fielders had an OPS+ of 108 last year, meaning that Murphy's bat profiles a bit below average at the position. And unlike first base, where his defensive prowess can help make up some of the gap, in left field, Murphy would likely have to hit a good bit better than average just to break even.

Utility player: This option has some upside, with Murphy filling in at multiple positions at Triple-A in preparation for a utility role with either the Mets or another team. But it would seem to stunt his development further.

Keep in mind, Murphy has played all the positions mentioned above, but none of them exclusively for any period of time, keeping him from learning to play in one place, while allowing him to focus on developing as a hitter. Asking him to juggle so many positions may well keep him from becoming a hitter that can best help the Mets, let alone drawing interest from other teams.

And more to the point: if the Mets are showcasing him for a trade, what was the last time a team received a ton of trade chips in exchange for a utility player?


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30 Comments on "Daniel Murphy: What Position?"


DGrit
5 years 3 months ago

Your analysis is a bit skewed if you ask me. Murphy would make a lot of sense as a left handed utility player, someone who even could get several hundred at bats while playing multiple positions and pinch hitting. He would add more depth than any of the dead wood currently filling the back end of the bench. Clearly, outfield is a position he would have to continue to master (preferably later), but he has more value to the Mets than just as a trade chip.

attgig
5 years 3 months ago

if the mets want to keep him, they should play him 2b in Buffalo. if they think they can trade him away, let him play 3b, of course, in buffalo. He could turn out to be the next Ty Wigginton.

5 years 3 months ago

Hey Howard do you know if there is going to be a live chat soon?

iwishihadaclue
5 years 3 months ago

Murphy was absolutely HORRIBLE at 3B in the minors. He was adequate in LF in ’08 till he was exposed in ’09. He was decent at 1B last year, but his bat isn’t good enough for that position. His best bet is to become a Ty Wigginton type of guy, but Ty has much more power and is better defensively than Murphy. He’s just not that good and won’t be the make or break piece in any big trade.

adropofvenom
5 years 3 months ago

We’ve been through this, minor league defensive numbers mean pretty much nothing. Between a players inexperiance, poor field conditions, and poor official scorers who automatically assign E to any play that isn’t converted, the numbers simply don’t translate to the big leagues. Derek Jeter once had 56 errors at SS in the minors, looking at those numbers, one would be stunned that he’s stuck at the position in the big leagues. Murphy’s shown at 1B that he has the ability to handle line drives, the lateral range to play 3B, and he’s got a good enough arm for the position. I fail to see why he wouldn’t be at least average there.

iwishihadaclue
5 years 3 months ago

I dunno what makes you feel he’ll be at least average, Its more like..”at best he’ll be average”. No one liked how he looked at 3B in the minors. The Mets wouldnt even use him at 3B on days Wright had a day off or when he was on DL. That alone should tell you something. As for his arm….He could barely hit cut-off men from LF, had issues throwing to 2nd and home. How does that translate into “good enough” for 3B?

aap212
5 years 3 months ago

They’re not disrupting a star future by keeping him in the majors, he’s not good enough to hit at a corner, and he’s not good enough to field anywhere else. Bench player and pinch hitter.

dickylarue
5 years 3 months ago

It’s in Murphy’s best interest to be an adequate 2b. He doesn’t have the stick for 1b or a corner OF spot.

If he can play a serviceable 2b, he has tremendous value in this league.

I never quite understood the Mets insistence on him as their 1b of the future with Davis nipping at his heels in the spring.

The best thing Murhpy ever did for the Mets was get hurt so they were forced to promote Davis and now are locked into him as their 1b.

aap212
5 years 3 months ago

It’s in a chicken’s best interest to have the gift of flight. That doesn’t mean it’s possible.

mikefromNY
5 years 3 months ago

I hope he can make it at 2B – he doesn’t seem that quick to me but he did make some good fielding plays at 1B last year. Trade Castillo for a bag of baseballs and see if Murph can hold down this position.

5 years 3 months ago

I don’t get this sudden inane “position” conversation about Murphy. Is there something special about the Mets whereby an OF-1B can be transformed into a middle infielder overnight simply because he’s a Met? Wait! I know, make him an All-Star gold-glove winning shortstop who can also close on occasion and catch, preferably throwing out baserunners from his knees. I bet *that* would increase his trade value.

I mean, I wish him luck in learning a new position, but my point is, why does this question pertain to him any more so than the desirable hypothetical conversion of any AAAA-bat OF-1B on any team in the majors (we’re talking dozens, if not hundreds of players) to some position further up the difficulty spectrum? The answer: because he plays in NEW YORK. That makes the idea a HUGE STORY.

Wait, let’s just make him into Albert Pujols. Yeah, that will do it. Please vote, fans. Would having Murphy hit like Albert Pujols instead of Dan Murphy be a good thing for the Mets? Tell us if you think they should convert him into a triple-crown-threat bat. Think hard about this question, because whatever you wish will come true. Or if it doesn’t, Murphy will be a goat. Because it is in NY, and he should be able to do it, just like magic.

5 years 3 months ago

The only exaggerating seems to be coming from you.

adropofvenom
5 years 3 months ago

Mainly because Murphy isn’t a OF-1B.

He’s a natural 3B who has been blocked by David Wright, so they’ve been forced to scramble and try and find a position for him….. and he’s played some 2B both in the minors and in the Arizona Fall League, hence the reason people mention 2B as a possibility, granted that one is probably a bit of a stretch.

aap212
5 years 3 months ago

He was never any good defensively at third.

East Coast Bias
5 years 3 months ago

I think first base suited him best. With more work in the minor league system at first base, the Mets can raise his trade value. He’s not fast enough to play second, imo. Put him there, and it’ll just expose his short comings, decreasing trade value. With Ike Davis and Jason Bay locking up their respective spots, it’s hard to see Murphy staying in New York.

vtadave
5 years 3 months ago

Great. When I woke up this morning, I was hoping there would be a several-paragraph post about Daniel Murphy. Next up: “Analyzing the Tatis Situation”.

5 years 3 months ago

Murphy would make a very nice bench player and would give the team much-needed depth. He should already be occupying the role Catalonotto is in. Murphy is the type of player the Mets have ignored during Omar’s reign– the versatile young guy who wouldn’t kill you if you had to start him somewhere for 80 games or so. The Mets’ bench has been absolute dreck and this year is no exception. This year there are several players at AAA (Carter, Murphy, Pridie) who are almost without question better players than the bench guys on the big league club (Catalanotto, Tatis, GMJ).

5 years 3 months ago

why not trade him to the m’s?

aap212
5 years 3 months ago

The M’s need a corner player who can hit like a corner player.

BradyAndersonsSideburns
5 years 3 months ago

Murphy is a scrub, why are we even having this discussion? Slow news day I suppose

Nicolas_C
5 years 3 months ago

First of all Murphy isn’t anywhere near a scrub, and second of all he’s 25 years old.

alphakira
5 years 3 months ago

And third, he’s proven to have a competent bat along with good baseball knowledge. If you want to go for a fourth, I’d say that the guy got ripped to shreds in the NY media – to which he went on to play a solid first base and finish out the year as a decent player. He never crumbled when 50% of the rest of the league would have in his situation.

UnderachieversAvenue
5 years 3 months ago

Murph, Pridie and Carter should replace those walking zombies named Ktalanotto, KMJ and Tatis right now… Otherwise Jerry can allow pitchers to hit …

UnderachieversAvenue
5 years 3 months ago

Carter and Murphy should be replacing KMJ and Ktalanotto on the bench right now. Otherwise Jerry can ask HoJo to pinch-hit or let pitchers hit for themselves…

rojomet
5 years 3 months ago

Murph is hitting .275, and has 47 doubles, 7 triples, and 14 home runs in what is essentially one season worth of at bats. He’s still only 25 and skipped AAA. The people who think he’s a “scrub” need to get a clue. He’s off to a better start than a lot of really good players. The kid can hit. And the moron who wondered why people think he can play 2b, it’s not because he plays in New York, it’s because he has played it before and I believe he played it in college as well.

thekufffdog
5 years 3 months ago

the belongs at 2nd base plus with Ike and jose one each side his range won’t be an issue plus compared to some of the best 2nd base in the NL east just cant field at all he can be one of the better one in the division plus we do know that he is 1. a pretty smart hitter 2. knows the game (uses two hands) 3. he’s a gamer and plays hard all the time 4. he’s good in the clubhouse. 5 he is not a hard partying stiff playing with two bad legs. plus he can be the #2 Hitter this team needs and lenghtnen the lineup which could when healthy look like this.
1.Reyes SS
2.Murphy 2nd
3.Wright 3rd
4. Bay LF
5.Beltran CF
6.Davis 1st
7. Frehncy RF
8. Barjas / Blanco /Thole (when ready to catch in the majors we know he can hit)

thekufffdog
5 years 3 months ago

the belongs at 2nd base plus with Ike and jose one each side his range won’t be an issue plus compared to some of the best 2nd base in the NL east just cant field at all he can be one of the better one in the division plus we do know that he is 1. a pretty smart hitter 2. knows the game (uses two hands) 3. he’s a gamer and plays hard all the time 4. he’s good in the clubhouse. 5 he is not a hard partying stiff playing with two bad legs. plus he can be the #2 Hitter this team needs and lenghtnen the lineup which could when healthy look like this.
1.Reyes SS
2.Murphy 2nd
3.Wright 3rd
4. Bay LF
5.Beltran CF
6.Davis 1st
7. Frehncy RF
8. Barjas / Blanco /Thole (when ready to catch in the majors we know he can hit)

Guest
5 years 3 months ago

Murphy can still be a valuable asset to the Mets. He has proven himself as a pinch hitter. Also, if you look back on last season you will find he played 1st base good enough to be named the starting 1st baseman for the 2010 season. I believe this qualifies him as BETTER than average. The problem with Murphy is not Murphy. It’s with management. Better decisions as to how to utilize him should have been made.