Middle infielder Daniel Murphy had to take a long, strange trip before settling into the New York Mets’ second baseman role. Since his rookie season in 2008, Murphy has played first, second, third and left field as the Mets tried to find a place to stick his healthy bat (.290 career average). He’s been vilified by fans, injured on the field and hounded in the press, but not only is Murphy still around, he’s quietly become one of the better second basemen in the NL.
In 2013, he hit .286, the second-lowest total of his career, but significantly raised his runs (92), hits (188), homers (13), RBI (78) and steals (23) over the season before. Those numbers compare well with the NL All Stars from a year ago:
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (starter) .261 BA, 18 HR, 103 RBIs, 80 runs, 158 hits
Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (reserve) .318 BA, 11 HR, 78 RBIs, 126 runs, 199 hits
Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants (reserve) .297 BA, 3 HR, 31 RBIs, 57 runs, 145 hits
Scutaro, 37, is unlikely to make a second career All-Star appearance. Carpenter, who led the league in runs, hits and doubles, is a lock to make the team, barring injury. If Murphy improves even slightly over last year, he should get strong consideration to make the game as a reserve.
The biggest obstacle to Murphy’s candidacy, of course, is the Mets themselves. David Wright will be there based on performance and reputation, and Zack Wheeler is going to make a strong case himself. A return to form by Curtis Granderson will also garner plenty of attention. Fans and coaches might feel that’s enough representation for a team that has underachieved for so long.
My gut tells me that Murphy’s numbers will be worthy of an All-Star nod, but if he makes the team, it’ll be as an injury replacement. These games are as much about reputation as talent. Murphy’s already shown he has the latter and the former will come with one more above-expectation season.