On July 3rd, 2008 Dan Murphy played his first game as a professional at second base. Murphy then made 15 consecutive starts at second base. According to B-Mets manager Mako Oliveras, Murphy did a “great job. He proved to us that he can play there.”
Murphy can hit. He's hit .300/.370/.475 in his first 92 games at AA. However, his defensive home has always been unclear. Murphy played second and third in college. As a professional, he focused on third base initially, although he committed 35 errors at the hotcorner in 2007. In 2008, the Mets began moving him with moving him around the diamond, finding him time at leftfield and first base before second. Murphy enjoys the experience, “I just come in every day and it’s a surprise where I play. It’s exciting to tell you the truth. The fact that I get to play multiple positions – I think the organization is showing a lot of faith in me.”
Breaking down Murphy’s return to second into specific areas is very instructive. In evaluating second basemen, Oliveras starts with “how they turn the doubleplay” and loved Murphy’s comfort level there saying he looked like “he’s been playing there forever. He’s a tough cookie.” At third, scouts questioned Murphy’s footwork, leading to a concern about his range at second. On this point too, Oliveras was positive, calling Murphy’s range “good.” Oliveras also clarified that to him, for a secondbaseman, pure range is “overrated because if you know how to position yourself [adjusting for] fastball, curveball, in, away, you make it easier.” This plays into Murphy’s strength as a “very smart baseball guy.” On this last point, there is universal acclaim across the Mets system as to Murphy’s baseball acumen.
Murphy now carries four different types of gloves, a third baseman’s glove, a leftfielder’s glove, a 1B mitt and now a second baseman’s glove in his bag. In fact, he’s had to borrow teammate Jonathan Malo’s glove for his work at second, saying of his teammate’s leather, “I use it every day.” He’s still “trying to break in” a second base glove of his own.
Murphy’s ability to handle secondbase is crucial in evaluating his potential big league future. His clean line drive swing produces average and doubles (34 in 07, 22 to this date in 08). However, most scouts don’t see those liners turning into enough homers for Murphy to be an elite firstbaseman or corner outfielder. On the other hand, his lefthanded bat would be special at second, or in a super utility role similar to that filled by Chone Figgins in his early days in Anaheim.
Notes: Yes, that’s an awesome mustache in the attached picture. Many of the B-Mets players grew something special to coincide with the team’s Moustache Monday promotion. …. I plan on posting a video series of Murphy at the plate in this space in the coming days.