February is storyline month at spring training. "[Player X] has re-tooled his swing." "[Player Y] tried a new workout routine and is in the best shape of his life." "[Player Z] is learning to play the outfield, has a sweet new beard, and is dropping Call Me Maybe as his walk-up music." I thought Daniel Murphy's story would have something to do with him getting married in December; Oliver Perez's offseason marriage a few years back was described as "a sign of his growing maturity." Apparently, Murph is already a mature guy, so his story is that after years of learning new positions and competing for a job he can finally settle in as the starting second baseman. He certainly deserves it after a serviceable 2012.
We have about three full seasons' worth of MLB playing time with which to assess soon-to-be 28-year-old Murphy's skills at the plate. He's a slightly-above-average hitter with good contact skills, doubles power, and not much in the walks department. His career slash line of .292/.339/.427 plays well at second base. That's about what I expect from him in 2013, and that's just fine. Then there's his defense.
Questions about where on the diamond Murphy will play have disappeared, but they still remain for how well he'll perform out there. Amazin' Avenue readers rated Murph's defense in 2012 as about average. Wisdom of the crowds and all but I can't help thinking that a bit of wishcasting took place in that vote. Murphy wasn't a laughingstock disaster, did indeed appear to improve as the season went on, and apparently works really hard. Therefore, he earned an "average" rating, right? I disagree with that rating -- his range doesn't look great and he committed 15 errors -- but I am open to the idea that he can be better this season.
Fortunately, Murphy doesn't have to become Brandon Phillips with the glove to be useful. Barring an unforeseen collapse, Murph's bat all but ensures that Mets fans won't be pulling their hair out over a second base black hole. Whether or not he's the long-term solution at the position is a discussion for another day.
I'll set my watch to Murphy's career slash line and predict exactly that for 2013. His intercostal injury that was diagnosed this week doesn't seem too serious. Post your Murphy projection in the comments in the same format as below. Throw in a non-numerical defense projection as well. I'll compare our projections to actual results at season's end.
Defense: Solidly below-average