The Mets continue to play unseasonably well for a team that Mike Francesa told us wasn’t worth following back in April. And it now appears that David Wright will return sooner than later, meaning that on the infield, third base and shortstop will be covered.
But what are the Mets to do at second base? The answer is currently in the organization, and it isn’t Reese Havens (injured again), Ruben Tejada (OPS+ 79) or Justin Turner (OPS+ 96, hitting .207 since May 31).
Daniel Murphy,entering tonight’s game, has an OPS+ of 117. Know how many second basemen have a better OPS+ in the major leagues? Six. Howie Kendrick, Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, Rickie Weeks, Dustin Pedroia and Danny Espinosa. And only Espinosa is younger than Daniel Murphy.
And for those who’d like to believe Murphy isn’t capable of handling the position defensively, his UZR/150 at the position is a sterling +13.0. Now, that’s in just 167 innings, so it is too small a sample to conclude that he’s a terrific defender at second. But it certainly doesn’t prove that he can’t. It simply begs for him to get more time at the position.
And you know what else does? How his bat doesn’t profile at other spots. Know how many first basemen have a better OPS+ in the major leagues? 17. In other words, he’d be a top-seven hitter at second, a bottom-half hitter at first. Add in the expected return of Ike Davis, at the very least next season, and why is Daniel Murphy wasting time at the position?
He would rank seventh overall at third base as well, but it is worth noting that the six ahead of him this year do not include David Wright. And Wright also figures, one would assume, in the team’s long-term plans.
So whatever else happens with the New York Mets in the coming months, the best thing they can do for their long-term issue at second base is to play Daniel Murphy there daily. It should help in 2011, and it could provide an answer at the position for years to come.