By Michael Mandelkern
The Mets revived some of their two-out potion in their August 17 series opener against the Washington Nationals. With Ruben Tejada and Andres Torres retired in the first inning, David Wright came through with a single followed by a double from Scott Hairston. Daniel Murphy sent the runners on second and third home with a soft floater to shallow center field. 2-0, 2 outs and Murphy advances his single to second base on a wild throw by Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper.
Even though the Mets ultimately lost 6-4 and Murphy failed to drive in Hairston’s doubles in the third and sixth innings, starting the game with an early lead and taking advantage of two-out opportunities renewed optimism in a team that has been sinking fast. It is a relief if they win at least one game in a series these days.
Some prominent players that management has its eyes on for next season are Wright, Tejada and Ike Davis. But Murphy’s name seldom comes up in that conversation and, instead, is continually spun around the trade rumor mill.
Murphy is a crucial piece to the puzzle who should not be brought up in any trade conversation. He has slumped over his last ten games, going 6 for 39 and watching his average slip from .304 to .293., but overall he is a productive and consistent everyday player. He is batting .293 against both lefties and righties and hit .305 over the past 30 days. Although Murphy has only hit four home runs this season, he has amassed 33 doubles (only two less than Wright) and 125 hits (12 under Wright). He is patient at the plate and doesn’t try to do too much. Murphy has about half the amount of Davis’ strikeouts; 53 compared to 108.
Tejada shines under the spotlight of filling Jose Reyes’ void. Davis is a first-round draft pick. Wright is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and six-time All-Star. Murphy is underrated. He is consistent, hard working, humble, has remained loyal to the Mets for four seasons and wants to stay for the long haul. He can put himself on base as a two-spot hitter. As fifth in the lineup and with 51 RBIs on the season, he is one of the most reliable players in the lineup to drive in runs; only Wright and Davis surpass his RBI count. He can play multiple in-field positions, and outfield if necessary.
Murphy is not to blame for the Mets woes this season, and without him the Mets will only take a step in reverse.