Daniel Murphy is quietly putting together his best season to date, despite his team being ranked No, 29 in OPS and No. 22 in runs scored.
This past Sunday, he hit two doubles and a home run. He leads the team with a .822 OPS and 15 extra base hits. He's on pace for a career high in both categories.
Murphy is walking more by swinging at fewer pitches outside of the strike zone. Thus far in 2014, his plate discipline has been noticeably better than his career numbers. He’s still walking at a league average rate, but it's a step forward for him.
He's walking more, but he's also making better contact. He 's making contact with 90 percent of the pitches he swings at, which is fourth-best in the NL. As such, his strikeout rate is 10th lowest in MLB. More importantly, he’s making good contact. He’s hitting a lot of line drives and fewer fly balls, which is a great profile for a hitter who doesn’t have the raw power to hit a lot of home runs.
Murphy is also continuing to impress on basepaths, where he’s on pace for 30 steals. His defense, while still below average, has improved steadily.
Unless the rest of the team starts hitting around him, Murphy may find himself on the trade market this summer, especially if Wilmer Flores shows the ability to hit at the major league level. A number of contending teams are getting very poor production from second base and a player like Murphy could put them over the edge. In the meantime, I'll keep enjoying watching him make a heck of a bid for a spot on the All-Star team.
The Mets are going to get offers for Murphy. They shopped him last winter, but asked for a lot in return, as they should. He's a tremendous value at second base. I still contend that the only way Sandy Alderson trades Murphy is if, a) Flores hits and shows he can play on a big-league infield, and b) the deal helps net significantly more power in the lineup. For instance, if trading Murphy, Kevin Plawecki and Rafael Montero can bring back a substantial, no-brainer bat with the ability to hit 30 home runs, I'd do it. Otherwise, I'd rather Murphy - and I'd use the value gauged on the trade market to offer him a contract extension this winter.