Sources inside the New York Mets organization revealed yesterday that both Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada were in jeopardy of being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas if their performance didn’t improve over the course of the remainder of the Subway Series. While Tejada dodged a bullet by straining his hamstring and ending up on the 15-day disabled list, Davis managed to break out of his months-long slump with a two-for-five performance.
So how does the starting second baseman tie into the struggles of Davis and Tejada? It’s an aspect of the game that goes overlooked more often than not in 2013: The intangible energy and genuine excitement for the success of others.
The Mets erupted in the first inning of Wednesday night’s contest, lighting up New York Yankees starting pitcher David Phelps for four earned runs in only one-third of an inning pitched. Davis, batting eight, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out with three runs already home in the inning. After working the count full, Phelps delivered a 90 MPH fastball on the outer-half of the plate that Davis drove the opposite way past a diving Reid Brignac for a two-run single. As John Buck and Rick Ankiel crossed the plate to give the club a five run lead, SNY’s cameras panned to Daniel Murphy, who pumped his fist with pure adrenaline in the dugout.
That’s what teammates are supposed to do, correct? The energy of a club should come from within, and it’s one of the reasons that former shortstop Jose Reyes was lauded by the fan base the exact opposite way that Jordany Valdespin is a polarizing figure: The difference between excitement blended with passion and showmanship is stark.
Murphy is one of the more valuable pieces to this club, and perhaps a very underrated one. Club tenure doesn’t mean anything in terms of on-field production, but he has quietly become the club’s second longest tenured player behind David Wright. His 1.8 fWAR is third on the team behind Matt Harvey and David Wright, and has posted a wRC+ of at least 101 (great) in his last three professional seasons. Although he has the tendency to be a streaky player, he has evolved from a one-dimensional offensive player to a tool-sy player who is a top second baseman in the major leagues.
If one were to recount Murphy’s emotional displays on the field, looking back to 2011 may be the most ripe area to do so. On April 27th, 2011, Jose Reyes lined a double down the right field line at Nationals Park that he looked to stretch into a triple. The enthusiastic Reyes slid head-first into third base, beating the tag, but was called out. A fuming Reyes jolted to his feet and needed to be restrained, but the true story of the evening was Daniel Murphy’s following at-bat. As the Mets looked to even the score at three, Murphy worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Tyler Clippard before hitting a line drive deep down the right field line that sailed into the stands to tie the game at two. In the ninth inning, Murphy put a stamp on the game when he hit a two-run double in the ninth to give the Mets insurance.
It would be reasonable to think that Murphy would be someone on the trading block for the Mets. He’s set to undergo arbitration for the second time this winter, isn’t playing at his natural position, and the Mets have depth at second and could presumably turn Murphy into a major league outfielder. However, Murphy has simply become too valuable for this club to trade. The Mets won’t be able to replace his offense easily (Especially with unproven major league talent), and beyond all else, he’s an integral part of this team who wants to be here when this ship turns around.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron