Excluding catcher John Buck’s scorching start to the season, Daniel Murphy has been the New York Mets’ top hitter through the team’s first 11 games.
Murphy, who is batting a team-high .381, has hit safely in all but three games. The second baseman has a team-best 16 hits, including eight extra-base hits – five doubles, two home runs and one triple – in 42 at-bats. Last season, he didn’t belt his first two home runs until June 27, when he hit both in consecutive at-bats.
If he continues to hit with more power, the Mets may eventually be forced to move him from the second spot in the lineup down to the middle of the order. In fact, manager Terry Collins indicated that if Murphy remains hot, he might consider dropping him lower in the order, particularly if first baseman Ike Davis continues struggling, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
Though Murphy’s sample size is small, the power display is somewhat surprising, considering he was limited to just 10 at-bats during Grapefruit League play because of a strained right intercostal muscle.
During his five-year career, Murphy has shown flashes of brilliance at the plate. However, whether it’s been because of injuries, lack of playing time or mental mistakes, he hasn’t been able to put it together for an entire season.
If his power surge continues, though, he could become an even bigger asset in the heart of the order. Murphy has always had a knack for coming through with runners in scoring position, and that trend has continued this season. He leads the National League with a .714 average with runners in scoring position (5-for-7), so if you combine that with his spike in power production, Murphy could potentially become not only one of the most dangerous hitters in the Mets’ lineup, but the entire league.
Traditionally, a team’s best hitter, defined as the player with the best combination of power and average, bats third, but that’s third baseman David Wright’s spot. But the longer Murphy continues tearing the cover off the ball, while Davis continues struggling, don’t be surprised to see Murphy penciled in the third spot in the lineup, followed by Wright and Davis in the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
However, until the Mets’ lineup starts to struggle as a whole, it’d be hard to imagine manager Terry Collins shaking things up. After all, the Mets are 7-4 and in second place in the National League East.
Justin Silberman is a journalism and new media major at Towson University, located in Baltimore, and true Mets fan.