It has now been 11 months and two days since Daniel Murphy hit a home run. Times were different then. Muammar Qaddafi and Kim-Jong Il roamed the earth. Rick Perry was the frontrunner for the Republican preidential nomination. And almost nobody had heard of Lena Dunham.
Still, while consistency is supposed to be comforting, Mets fans wouldn’t mind a change.
The Daniel Murphy at second base experiment was supposed to have two major potential stumbling blocks: he could embarrass himself defensively. Or he could get hurt playing the position.
Neither one has happened, really. He hasn’t been good out there defensively, but he’s been good enough, with a plus bat, to be useful at the position. And he’s been healthy all year.
The problem is the plus bat hasn’t been in evidence.
He’s been walking and striking out at virtually identical rates as he has throughout his career- 6-7 percent of the time walking, 12 percent striking out. The true outcomes, in other words, haven’t changed.
But the balls in play sure are different. He hit fly balls 41.3% of the time in 2009, during a season in which he led the Mets with 12 home runs. He hit ground balls 40 percent of the time.
Fast forward to 2012. He’s hitting fly balls 23.5 percent of the time. He’s hitting ground balls 55.3 percent of the time. He’s producing ground balls, in other words, the way ground ball pitchers normally induce them.
It’s not a surprise that his home runs are down, in other words. Take a look at the company he’s keeping, 12th in the major leagues in ground ball percentage. No one is waiting for the power surge from Denard Span or Jamey Carroll.
The point here is, Murphy’s current process has to change for him to collect more than the occasional home run. And that’s pretty important for a guy who doesn’t walk much and needs his offense to sustain a starting position. Otherwise, he’s Jeff Keppinger.