Daniel Murphy: A Surprise in the Top 5

In his fourth full big league season, Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy finally fulfilled his fantasy promised and delivered great value to his owners. Likely drafted in the last two rounds or simply left as waiver wire fodder, Murphy ended the year as the league’s fourth best fantasy player at the pivot.

When Murphy had his showcase in 2008, the left-handed hitter didn’t really show us exactly what was to come. Murphy struck out at a league average rate while walking at a much higher one, and an inflated BABIP led to a fantastic .313/.397/.473 batting line and plenty of hype.

The next season didn’t go so great for Murphy, but he showed us all who he really was. If not for a .284 BABIP, Murphy would have been an average — or perhaps even better — big league hitter, but his numbers weren’t exactly acceptable for a first baseman.

Murphy would miss the next season with an injury, and when he returned in 2011, the Mets transitioned the then 26-year-old to second base, where his offensive skill set would be more valuable. Murphy hit .320 that season with plenty of doubles, but the lack of homers and steals left him relegated to the bench. Murphy repeated his fantasy stats in 2012, yet again leaving him in the MI spot or on the wire.

This year, though, Murphy quietly exploded. In his age-28 season, Murphy reached double-digit homers for the first time since 2009, stealing 23 bags in only 25 attempts. Better yet, Murphy completed his well-rounded line by scoring 92 runs, driving in 78, and hitting .286. While Murphy’s low walk total and lack of power made him simply an average hitter in real life, the second baseman was well worthy of praise in FanGraphs Points style leagues simply due to the amount of times he came to the plate.

Here’s where we get to the real question: can Murphy repeat? It’s pretty safe to say the batting average will stay up around .290, and double-digit steals seems a reasonable assumption. Murphy can probably get to around 10-14 homers again, so all that’s left to chance is the lineup around him delivering some counting stats.

With much less hype, Murphy was better than Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Jose Altuve, and Brandon Phillips in standard leagues. I may be wrong, but I feel like at least two of those guys will be going well before Murphy in 2014 drafts, and there’s a chance that all four of them will leapfrog Murphy in some leagues.

We hoped you liked reading Daniel Murphy: A Surprise in the Top 5 by Zach Sanders!

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

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Gricomet
Guest
Gricomet

As a Mets fan I’m glad he did well but based on his previous season isn’t it a bit optimistic to think he will reach these heights again? 14 SB is his most in any previous season and that was AA. He had quite a lot of plate appearances this season and his fantasy value was helped significantly by a jump in runs scored. I think he will be decent in 2014 but looking at him as a steady very good option at 2B seems like a stretch.

Matt Bertelli
Member
Member
Matt Bertelli

I completely agree with your analysis but looking at the rest of 2nd base he might be better than you would think. The plate appearances were a big factor this year but I don’t think you would reduce them that much other than just to account for injury risk. I mean the mets don’t have anyone that will steal time from him. His Steamer projection seems pretty conservative but even if you adjust it up for more plate appearances a projection like .290 with 80 runs 60 RBI’s 10HR and 15 SB is rock solid. Other than Pedroia I don’t know who would be ranked ahead of him. Zobrist? Altuve? Everth Cabera? Lawrie? I wouldn’t rank anyone else above him for next year. Half of those guys I mentioned are eligible at other positions too. If I had to predict where he would finish next year I would say the 6th best 2nd baseman with close to those stats I gave. 2nd base is weak so a guy who can contribute a little in Avg, SB, and Runs while not being a 0 in HR and RBI’s has good value compared to his peers at the position.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S

You don’t know of anyone other than Pedroia who will be ranked ahead of him? How about Robinson Cano?

Matthew Tobin
Member

I’d probably take Cano,Pedroia,Carpenter,Kinsler,Kipnis,Utley, and Lawrie in front of him.

The thing about Murphy is he lacks upside, which is critical in fantasy. I’d rather take a risk on Kinsler or Lawrie with the upside of a 25/25 season.

Murphy was decent in 2013, but appeared great because a ton of down seasons.