Monday, July 25, 2011

Daniel Murphy, Doubles Machine

Most of the news surrounding the Mets these days start with "Carlos Beltran this" or "Carlos Beltran that". In fact, there have been so many posts all over the blogosphere about the Mets' soon-to-be-traded rightfielder (such as this one and this other one. Both were decent pieces, but the latter post was a little too wordy for my tastes.) that it almost seems like no other player is newsworthy.

There are other players on this team that are contributing to its mediocre success. Sure, Jose Reyes has a great chance to become the Mets' first-ever batting champion. Yes, David Wright is back and hitting the ball with authority. But let's not forget another Mets' infielder who has also been quite prominent in the team's offense. I'm sure opposing outfielders know who he is, as they've been chasing his hits down the foul lines and in the power alleys.

His initials are D.M., but those letters also stand for his occupation. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Daniel Murphy, Doubles Machine.

Daniel Murphy is pointing out where his next double is going to land.

Daniel Murphy may not have the power you'd like from a corner infielder (although he did lead the Mets with 12 HR in 2009), but he possesses the uncanny ability to drive the ball all over the field, with many of those well-struck hits going for doubles.

This season alone, Murphy has collected 24 doubles, earning him a spot in the top ten in the National League, six doubles behind league leader and teammate Carlos Beltran. The two dozen doubles in 2011 are not a fluke, as Murphy picked up 38 doubles in 2009, which left him one double short of finishing in the top ten in the NL that year.

The utility infielder now has 71 career doubles to his name (he hit nine two-baggers in 2008 after being called up to the Mets in August). So why does that make him Daniel Murphy, Doubles Machine? Because Murphy has amassed those doubles in only 985 career at-bats.

In a relatively short period of time, Murphy is now 47th on the Mets' all-time doubles list. No one ahead of Murphy on the list collected their doubles in fewer than 1,000 at-bats. In fact, of the 46 players ahead of Murphy on the franchise leaderboard, only three of them achieved their total in fewer than 1,500 at-bats. Those three players are:

  • Bernard Gilkey: 90 doubles in 1,353 at-bats.
  • Tim Teufel: 87 doubles in 1,279 at-bats.
  • Todd Zeile: 77 doubles in 1,423 at-bats.

By the time Daniel Murphy reaches the number of at-bats compiled by Gilkey, Teufel and Zeile over their respective Mets careers, he might have already stroked career double No. 100.

Some people have questioned whether Daniel Murphy should be an everyday player in the major leagues. Others have asked whether he has a defensive position on a team like the Mets. These are both valid questions to ask, as Murphy's future with the team depends on whether both questions can be answered.

However, one question that should never be asked is if Daniel Murphy will always be a singles hitter. Daniel Murphy is NOT a Punch-and-Judy type hitter, nor has he ever been one.

In 985 career at-bats, he has collected 100 extra-base hits (in addition to his 71 doubles, Murphy has ripped nine triples and blasted 20 home runs), an average of one extra-base hit every 9.85 at-bats. That makes Murphy a more prolific extra-base hitter than the following:

  • Jose Reyes: 10.99 AB/XBH (391 extra-base hits in 4,296 at-bats)
  • Edgardo Alfonzo: 11.26 AB/XBH (346 extra-base hits in 3,897 at-bats)
  • Tommie Agee: 11.90 AB/XBH (203 extra-base hits in 2,416 at-bats)
  • Rusty Staub: 12.13 AB/XBH (212 extra-base hits in 2,571 at-bats)
  • Keith Hernandez: 12.71 AB/XBH (249 extra-base hits in 3,164 at-bats)
  • Cleon Jones: 13.71 AB/XBH (308 extra-base hits in 4,223 at-bats)

Murphy's penchant for the extra-base hit places him just behind some of the best hitters in Mets history, like Darryl Strawberry (8.32 AB/XBH), Carlos Beltran (8.36 AB/XBH), Mike Piazza (8.38 AB/XBH), David Wright (8.53 AB/XBH) and John Olerud (9.39 AB/XBH).

Whether you like him or not, you can't make an argument that Daniel Murphy is nothing but a singles hitter. In fact, he's the exact opposite. In a short period of time, Murphy has become one of the most prolific extra-base hitters in franchise history, especially in the doubles department.

So the next time you see Daniel Murphy striding to the plate with a man on base, consider that runner to be in scoring position, regardless of whether he's on first, second or third. Any runner on base for No. 28 is already in scoring position. That's one of the advantages of being on base for Daniel Murphy, Doubles Machine.

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