To say that it’s been an incredible postseason thus far for Daniel Murphy would probably be the understatement of the century at this point.
The man simply known as “Murph” has been on an absolutely torrid run over the last two weeks, as he’s hit .421/.436/.1.026 with two doubles, seven home runs, 11 RBI, 11 runs scored and a 1.462 OPS along with an MLB-record six consecutive playoff games with a home run and a National League Championship Series MVP award to boot.
He’s been clutch, he’s been a scintillating watch and he’s been a phenomenal story in this World Series run the Mets have made this October.
This team would not be where they are today if not for the heroics of Daniel Murphy.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it should change this team’s approach on re-signing him.
Murphy isn’t the first postseason hero to come out of nowhere, as we’ve seen a myriad of these kinds of guys just over the last five years.
The first that really stands out to me was Cody Ross, a good player who turned it on for the San Francisco Giants in his first career postseason appearance. Prior to the playoffs that season, Ross was a .265/.323/.466 hitter over the course of his career with 127 doubles, 86 home runs and 319 RBI in his first eight major league seasons.
When the calendar turned to October, however, everything changed. In 59 plate appearances over 15 games in the 2010 postseason, Ross it .294/.390/.686 with five doubles, five home runs, 10 RBI, 11 runs scored and a 1.076 OPS as he was one of the biggest factors of the Giants first championship since moving to San Francisco.
The following season with the Giants, however, Ross saw his production slip as he hit .240/.325/.405 with 25 doubles, 14 home runs, 52 RBI and .730 OPS in 121 games at age 30. In four seasons since, Ross played for the Red Sox, Diamondbacks–where he was released one season into a three-year deal–and the A’s–where he was designated for assignment after nine games.
The following season we saw yet another unlikely postseason hero by the name of David Freese, who will forever live in St. Louis lore as he propelled the Cardinals to their 11th World Series championship in 2011.
Over his first three seasons in the major leagues, Freese had played just 184 games, hitting .298/.354/.429 with 30 doubles, 15 home runs, 98 RBI and a .783 OPS. When he had been on the field, Freese showed that he had some talent, however it was staying on the field that was the biggest issue for him.
Once the playoffs began, Freese became a completely different player as he hit .397/.465/.794 with eight doubles, five home runs, 21 RBI, 12 runs scored and a 1.258 OPS, along with the game-tying two-run triple in the 9th inning and the walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Game Six of the World Series.
The following season was a productive one for Freese as he hit .293/.372/.467 with 25 doubles, 20 home runs, 79 RBI and an .839 OPS in 144 games in his age 29 season. It was the following season, however, where Freese began to struggle. In 2013 with the Cardinals, Freese hit .262/.340/.381 with 26 doubles, nine home runs, 60 RBI and a .721 OPS in just 138 games. The following season, he was traded to the Angels for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.
In 2012 we saw yet another unexpected player for the Giants take on the role of October hero: Marco Scutaro. Over his first 11 seasons, Scutaro had a fairly productive career, hitting .276/.340/.391 for six different teams over that timespan.
Traded from the Rockies to the Giants at the trade deadline in 2012, the 36-year-old shortstop made the most of his second career playoff appearance, as he was the driving force in the Giants second title in three seasons.
In 16 playoff games that season, Scutaro hit .328/.377/.391 with 21 hits, four doubles, eight RBI, 11 runs scored and a .767 OPS, all while earning NLCS MVP honors where he batted .500/.533/.607 in the series.
After earning a three-year contract extension for his postseason heroics, Scutaro carried over that success in 2013 as he hit 297/.357/.369 with 23 doubles, two home runs and 31 RBI, where he made the All-Star team for the only time in his career.
From 2014-2015, however, the Giants paid Scutaro $13,333,333 to play in five games, as his career came to an end due to back surgery.
This takes us back to Murphy, the latest in a long line of unlikely postseason heroes. Murph has always been a good hitter, as he’s batted .288/.331/.424 in the first seven years of his career.
As well all know, though, Murphy has his warts, too. He’s never been a particularly good fielder, and while he’s learned to play an adequate second base over the last few seasons, the mental errors he’s made in the field as well as on the base paths have been painful to watch at times.
Look, I’ve always been a fan of Daniel Murphy, but he is far from a perfect player. The reality for Murph is that he is a good hitter, who–despite his playoff performance–doesn’t hit for much power and should really be on an American League team to limit his time playing in the field.
It’s been an absolutely extraordinary performance for Murphy this October, but he should be evaluated on his career as a whole rather than his heroics over the last two weeks.
The fact of the matter is that Murphy is likely going to get a contract for much more than he is worth due to this playoff performance, and if that’s the case, I can’t blame the Mets for moving on.
History says it’s the right call.