Around the Horn – First Base

February 5, 2010


I now embark on projecting the production from each position for the upcoming season (starting pitching has  been discussed previously).  We begin with first base.

Daniel Murphy – Daniel has essentially been given the keys to the ignition here.  This became undeniably true once the Mets decided to close the book on the Carlos Delgado era.  I for one believe that this was a good move.  I say this because I was only given two choices here.  Murphy or Delgado.  Of those two, Murphy is the better choice.  He is young.  He is healthy (a rare attribute for a player on this team).  He has some measure of untapped potential.  These are all characteristics that Carlos Delgado does not possess.  My reasoning is fairly simple to follow.

Will Daniel Murphy develop into a quality first baseman?

As far as what can be expected from Murphy, I think it is safe to say that he will hit for at least a respectable average.  Would anyone call me nuts if I thought his low water mark would be around .270?  Probably not.  I also like his 40 double potential.  He did hit 38 of them last year.  Not bad.  I like the double.  It is a very underrated statistic.  Power is certainly never going to be a large part of his offensive game.  He is all about contact as he put the bat on the ball a tick below 80% of his plate appearances last season.

The negative here is that his on-base percentage needs to improve, which it may as he gets more comfortable facing big league pitching.  He is not a guy who gives you much else, as his foot speed is only average at best.  His splits are not very encouraging in that his numbers really bottom out versus left-handed pitching.  This is the reason why many believe he needs a right-handed compliment to face the toughest of the left-handed starters he will face this year.

He either projects long term as a number two hitter (if his average and on-base percentage improve), or as a guy who hits down in the order.  This season he will see most of his time in the seven hole due to the presence of Luis Castillo in the two spot.

As far as defense goes, this is where we run into an area of concern.  I realize that Murphy had to learn a new position on the fly last season.  Fair or not, he still worries me as he looks considerably uncomfortable out there in certain situations.  You do not have to be a baseball expert to see this from a ballplayer.  You can just sense it.  His movement is not fluid, nor is it precise around the bag.  There remains the possibility for him to improve, but I am fearful that he may be a guy playing out of position for the majority of his career.

Fernando Tatis – As I previously wrote, I am not sure why the Mets decided to bring Tatis back.  There were better and younger options to back up Murphy in the free agent pool this year, namely the likes of Ryan Garko, whom the Mariners recently signed.  I happen to respect the hell out of the Mariners and what they have done to better their team this off-season.  However, I digress.

Tatis will get his 150-200 at bats this season if he stays healthy.  The positive is that he can play a myriad of positions.  I can not take that away from him, although I struggle to find much else to compliment him on.

Let’s pull for Murphy.  After all, he is the only choice we were given for first base.

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