Daniel Murphy entered the 2008 season not even among the Mets’ top 10 prospects according to Baseball America. Prospect maven John Sickels gave him a “C” grade but called him a sleeper. Yet Murphy surprised the experts, as he rocketed to the majors where he posted a .313/.397/.473 slash line in 131 at-bats. In 2009, Murphy is viewed as a player to supplement the team’s core of Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright. The only question is where he will play.
A natural third baseman, Murphy saw the bulk of his playing time in left field for the Mets last season. This year he’s playing second base in the Arizona Fall League and is slated to play left field later in the year when he plays Winter Ball in Puerto Rico.
An .870 OPS bat will play anywhere in the field. But Murphy did post a .386 BABIP last year. He also struck out in 21.4 percent of his at-bats. Sickels praised Murphy for his line drive swing and he lived up to that reputation, with a LD% of 33.3, which was greater than his FB% of 25.5 for the Mets.
Murphy’s value goes through the roof if he is the team’s starter at second base on Opening Day. However, that seems unlikely at this point. Still, he will be a nice end-game acquisition on Draft Day. Yes, the BABIP was high in the majors, but so was the strikeout rate. At Double-A he fanned just 46 times in 357 at-bats. If his strikeout rate drops closer to his career minor league rate of 12.1 percent, a .300 average is not out of the question. Murphy has double-digit HR potential and his R/RBIs should be above-average in the team’s strong lineup.
The best-case scenario is Murphy claims the team’s starting second base job and bats second in the lineup. He could post a .300-12-70 line with 95 runs scored batting behind Reyes and in front of Wright and Beltran. In the more likely outfield batting seventh scenario, Murphy’s runs would take a big hit but he would compensate with a few more RBIs.