Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Is Daniel Murphy The Second Coming of The Bad Dude?

What do Daniel Murphy and former Met John Stearns have in common?  Not much, right?  John Stearns was a catcher and Daniel Murphy is a second baseman.  Stearns was a four-time All-Star - the first non-pitcher in Mets history to accomplish that feat - while Murphy watches the All-Star Game at home.  Stearns was known as Bad Dude; Murphy has no nickname (but he is the reason for the #ImWith28 hashtag on Twitter).

On the surface, they appear to have absolutely nothing in common.  But by the end of the season, they may have something quite odd in common.

In 2009, Daniel Murphy led the Mets in home runs with 12, tying the franchise record for lowest home run output by a team leader.  Who held the previous record?  The Bad Dude done did it.  In 1977, John Stearns led the team with 12 HR, tying John Milner and Steve Henderson, who also hit a dozen long balls.

Okay, so that's one thing in common.  Now, let's take a brief interlude to discuss those Mets players who didn't hit for much power.  In fact, let's narrow it down some.  Let's only look at players who failed to hit a single home run in an entire season, but still managed to collect at least 25 RBIs.  A total of seven players have driven in a minimum of 25 runs over a full season with nary a home run to their credit.  Those players are:

  • Buddy Harrelson (1971): 0 HR, 32 RBI
  • Doug Flynn (1978): 0 HR, 36 RBI
  • Frank Taveras (1980): 0 HR, 25 RBI
  • Alex Treviño (1980): 0 HR, 37 RBI
  • John Stearns (1980): 0 HR, 45 RBI
  • Bob Bailor (1982): 0 HR, 31 RBI
  • Ruben Tejada (2011): 0 HR, 36 RBI

Did you happen to notice which player had the most RBIs in a season in which he failed to hit a home run?  Of course you did!  It was none other than John Stearns.  He was one of three homerless wonders that helped bring the magic back to Shea Stadium in 1980.  Stearns completed his "record-breaking" season just three years after leading the team in home runs with 12.

Now let's fast-forward to the present day.  Remember how I said that Daniel Murphy led the team in home runs in 2009?  That was three years ago.  What has he done in 2012?  Absolutely nothing.  No, I really mean that.  Murphy has hit no home runs this year.  However, he has still managed to drive in 25 runs.  If the season were to end today, Murphy would become the eighth player in team history to amass 25 RBIs or more without the benefit of one stinkin' homer.

With more than half of the season left to be played, Murphy is more than halfway to Stearns' RBI total from 1980, putting him on pace to shatter the Bad Dude's mark if opposing pitchers continue to keep him in the ballpark.  And how many years after will have passed since Murphy led the team with his 12 HR total?  Uno, dos, tres.  Just like John Stearns.

No one would ever confuse Daniel Murphy for John Stearns.  They played in different eras, played different positions on the field and their style of play is different.  But Murphy and Stearns are on collision course to be mentioned in the same breath because of a unique statistical occurrence.  Who'da thunk it?  Daniel Murphy might have a little Bad Dude in him after all.

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