2012 Postmortem: A position-by-position look back at the season with some preliminary thoughts on 2013. Plate appearances, OPS, and fWAR for each player represent statistics posted at all positions, not just the position in review. OPS is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage. fWAR is FanGraphs wins above replacement -- read more about it here.
Links to positions previously covered:
For the first time in three years, Daniel Murphy won't spend the offseason rehabbing an MCL injury. He made it through a full season as the Mets' everyday second baseman, playing 79% of available innings at the position. How did it go? First up, I'll examine his defense, which was a bigger question mark than his bat heading into the season.
Murph's defensive reputation has never been stellar. Despite acquitting himself nicely at first base in the past, high-profile gaffes during his brief stint as an outfielder seemed to dictate popular opinion of his defensive prowess (a bit unfairly, in my opinion). The back-to-back season-ending injuries sustained while playing second base also contributed to a warranted skepticism that he could handle the position full-time.
One month into this past season, I asked readers to rate Murphy's defense at second base on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being terrible and 9 being outstanding. The average result was 4.4, or slightly-below average. I voted 3. He boofed some easy plays while making several tough ones in that first month, and looked a bit unsure around the second base bag. His range was unspectacular. I re-ran the poll at season's end to see if readers agreed with me that his defense improved, especially on throws and turning the double play. The result: 4.9. I gave him a 4, rounded up from 3.5 to be nice. If it's your thing, his UZR and DRS were -9 and -11, respectively, which would probably fall around 2 or 3 on the 1-to-9 scale. In addition, he had the second-most errors in the National League with 15. Murphy was passable at second base, but still solidly below-average.
Murphy regressed at the plate in 2012 following a fine performance in 2011. His was a common theme among young Mets hitters this season: a failure to improve offensively. Murphy lived up to his profile as a low-walk contact hitter with doubles power and was about league-average overall. His career line of .292/.339/.427 seems like a fair expectation going forward. If he can provide that kind of production at the plate with non-horrendous defense, the Mets will have an above-average regular for relatively cheap. Or they can trade him before he gets expensive. Murphy is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and is expected to fetch about $3 million.
Jordany Valdespin was back-and-forth between Triple-A Buffalo and the big club all season. During his time in MLB, he lived up to his reputation as a free-swinger with some power, posting a walk rate of just 4.9% but hitting 8 home runs in only 206 plate appearances. He played mostly outfield but did log some time at second base as well, impressing at neither. His reported attitude problems didn't become an issue, although in August some veteran players sent him a message about the locker room dress code that he seemed to accept.
Rob Castellano did a thorough examination of Valdespin in a post a few days back, linked here. He argued that Valdespin has been underrated by many, and at least has value as a super-sub going forward. I'm not as high on Valdespin as Rob is, but I do think he'll find a spot on a major-league roster for years to come. Maybe he'll become a left-handed hitting Scott Hairston, smacking some home runs without walking much. Maybe not. Trading Valdespin to a team that sees him as an everyday player would be ideal. However, having him around as insurance against an injury to Murphy or whoever is playing in the outfield next season could prove valuable. If he doesn't pan out with the Mets, he'll always have that awesome three-run home run off Jonathan Papelbon back in May to help beat the Phillies.
I tried to come up with a plausible trade to bring Jose Reyes back to the Mets. Murphy would be involved in that trade and Ruben Tejada would slide over to second base. Wilmer Flores, Jeurys Familia, and several other prospects would be trade bait. Unfortunately, given the Mets' precarious financial situation, I failed to concoct anything halfway reasonable. Such a trade proposal would be unnecessary if the organization's financial situation was less precarious. With the disappointing Reese Havens failing to develop, Murphy it is in 2013.
Projected 2013 starting second baseman: Daniel Murphy