By: Joe Messineo

The Strange Journey of Daniel Murphy


Of all the things that happened to and around the New York Mets this season, the journey of Daniel Murphy might have been the very strangest. The second-longest tenured Met player may have just finished his last season with the team, and he made it one to remember – for reasons both good and bad.

The Good

Even if you’d never heard of Daniel Murphy before the 2015 season, you’ve probably heard of him now. Murphy had a strong year that turned into a legendary one when the Mets hit the playoffs. He suddenly found power that he’d never had before, and he went on a run that saw him hit home runs in six consecutive games, shattering a record that had previously been held by Carlos Beltran (Beltran hit homers in a then-record five straight games in the 2004 postseason, when he was with the Houston Astros). Murphy also hit for average, and by the end of the postseason he was being pitched to like the superstar that he had become.

The Bad

Murphy was a hero in the NLDS and NLCS. With his power hitting unleashed, the Mets surged to their first pennant in fifteen years.

But in the World Series, things didn’t go so well. Murphy, never a great fielder, made gaffe after gaffe in the field against the contact-hitting Kansas City Royals. Murphy’s error in Game 4 cost the Mets the lead, which they never regained. Analysts have called it one of the most costly errors in World Series history.

Daniel Murphy followed up his historically damaging Game 4 performance with a 2-error outing in Game 5. The Mets lost that game, and the World Series. Daniel Murphy ended the series with four errors, and that doesn’t account for the damage that his poor defensive range did.

The Murphy

So who is Daniel Murphy? Is he the record-breaking power hitter, or the gaffe-prone error factory?

He’s neither, of course, yet partly both. Murphy has always been a poor fielder, though four errors in a five-game World Series is worse than can usually be expected. He’s also always been a good hitter, though it’s doubtful that he’ll ever again hit home runs in six straight games – much less against postseason pitching.

Daniel Murphy’s postseason offensive outburst has roots in his improved approach at the plate – he’s been pulling balls at a roughly league-average rate this year, whereas he used to record stats far below that. Murphy really is permanently improved, and really will be good next year. And he really will still be a poor fielder.

The Mets knew that Daniel Murphy was a good hitter before he put the ball in the stands in six straight games, and the knew he was a poor fielder before he put the ball on the ground four times in five games. The Mets’ front office has been saying all along that they don’t expect to re-sign him, and they can probably be believed.

What the Mets should (and probably will) do is make Murphy a qualifying offer. MLB teams are allowed to make a qualifying offer of a certain minimum amount in a one-year deal, and if the player rejects it, the team that he eventually signs with owes the team he left a draft pick. The Mets will probably give Murphy a qualifying offer (this offseason, a qualifying offer has to total $15.8 million). Murphy will probably reject it. So Murphy won’t be a Met next year, but the Mets will get a draft pick in the bargain. Who knows – maybe they can turn it into another Murphy.

About Joe Messineo

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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