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Finally recognizing Daniel Murphy

Elsa

The All-Star game is a good time to recognize unsung heroes. Let's give Daniel Murphy his due.

Sometimes the all-star roster doesn't make sense. The fans vote; however, not every fan cares about the best players that particular season as much as they do about their favorite players. Then players and managers get to vote. They do a better job than the fans - but again, have their biases, and may overlook legitimate stars in that given season. Then, once in a while, everything falls into place, and it works out—a player who isn't popular outside of his market nor an obvious selection by even the managers and players gets a chance. Daniel Murphy is an all-star this season.

If there is one thing that Daniel Murphy has been throughout his career, it is consistent at the plate. Since making his debut in 2008, he has hit above league average in all seasons except one (2009). In over 2,800 plate appearances, Murphy has hit a very respectable .290/.334/.422. He doesn't have a ton of power, but has some, with 46 career home runs, and has found increased power over the past two seasons, with 20 home runs since 2013. And since 2011, his consistency has been incredibly on point.

Season G wOBA wRC+ BABIP BB% K% WAR
2011 109 0.354 126 0.345 5.7 % 9.9 % 2.8
2012 156 0.318 102 0.329 5.9 % 13.4 % 1.3
2013 161 0.320 107 0.315 4.6 % 13.6 % 3.0
2014 92 0.332 116 0.323 7.2 % 12.7 % 2.6

Not a natural second baseman and having to learn the position to fit his offense, Murphy's defense fluctuates a bit, which affects his WAR, but the offensive numbers are in lock-step one year to the next. What stands out the most is the consistency of his average on balls in play. Each season between 2011-2014, Murphy hit above league average, park and league adjusted, and did so without the benefit of extreme luck. You can pretty much write down Murphy to hit for a wOBA around .320 - .330, with the same BABIP, keeping his BB% around 6% and K% around 13%, and expect an above average wRC+. Murphy is having his strongest season yet in 2014, but his consistency shows that besides a slight uptick in his walk rate, he is pretty much doing what he has always done at the plate—consistently hit.

Of course, when evaluating Murphy, especially in the context of the All-Star game, we need to do so in the context of second basemen. Scott Lindholm, as part of his best players at each position series, found Murphy providing greater value than his salary, and we can see why. The National League definitely does not have the second base talent of the American League,—where Cano, Pedroia, Zobrist, and Kinsler reside—but that doesn't mean there aren't some good ones. Since 2011, Murphy finds himself among the top second baseman in the National League.

Rank Name Team PA HR RBI SB BB% K% wRC+ WAR
1 Chase Utley Phillies 1742 48 204 37 8.8 % 12.6 % 119 14.0
2 Brandon Phillips Reds 2326 61 302 35 5.5 % 13.9 % 102 12.8
3 Matt Carpenter Cardinals 1504 21 158 7 10.8 % 15.5 % 132 11.3
4 Daniel Murphy Mets 2150 32 229 49 5.7 % 12.7 % 111 9.7
5 Neil Walker Pirates 2086 55 248 19 8.3 % 16.9 % 112 9.2

The Mets haven't had many players outside of David Wright at the top of their respective positions, but Murphy ranks fourth in WAR among fellow position players since 2011. Speaking of the Mets, since Murphy's debut in 2008, only David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran have produced more WAR in blue and orange. Murph, as fans lovingly call him, may not be a superstar, but he is a valuable contributor.

A lot of attention is paid to the Mets payroll. Since Bernie Madoff made headlines, the Mets have seen their payroll slashed and a decision is in front of general manager Sandy Alderson on what to do with the now all-star second baseman, since he will be entering his final season as arbitration eligibility.

At the age of 29 by next season, he has a few prime years left, but it might be wise for the Mets to sell high on him this season. He has provided the team exceptional consistency at the plate, but his defense still leaves a lot to be desired, and as any Mets fan who watches on a somewhat regular basis knows, he is prone to make some bonehead plays. This post is more about celebrating Murphy for his accomplishments, but it is important to note where he fits in the Mets plans. Logic says enjoy the offense that he has provided, but don't be afraid to sell on that now before it diminishes to the level of the rest of his game.

The All-Star game is a time for celebration. It is a chance for all of baseball to come together, watch the game's best players, and debate which players deserve to be among the best. The roster isn't perfect, because it is selected more subjectively than objectively, but sometimes those selecting the team get it right. Daniel Murphy deserves recognition for his consistency at the plate. He has provided the Mets with a lot of value at a position that isn't naturally his own. Kudos to Murph!

. . .

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

Jeffrey Bellone is an editor and featured writer at Beyond The Box Score. He can also be found writing for the saber-slanted site Inside the 'Zona, and about the Mets at Amazin' Avenue and Mets Merized Online. He writes about New York sports at Over the Whitestone. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter @JeffreyBellone.

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