On Monday it leaked out that despite Daniel Murphy turning into a postseason legend for the New York Mets while hitting six homers this postseason through Game 3 of the NLCS, that the team still does not plan to bring him back. Many Mets fans may be mad about this, but it makes a lot of sense for many reasons.
The first reason: Murphy’s stock is rising because of his amazing postseason, but in reality, he’s only had 34 postseason plate appearances. When you pick a 34 plate appearance sample size you are running a big risk. I can find a 34 plate appearance sample size that makes career .194 hitter Jeff Mathis look really good. Murphy certainly is a lot better than that, but he won’t touch this postseason production next year, and even in this analytical era someone is bound to overpay him. Delmon Young had an amazing postseason in 2011 for the Tigers, smacking five key homers and the next year he was the Tigers ALCS MVP and top hitter in the World Series. Despite that, in his only full season with the Tigers he didn’t help them a ton, as he only had a .296 OBP, along with -0.9 WAR. He was also about 12% worse than a league average hitter if you measure using OPS+. Once again, Murphy is better than this, but his performance in the postseason is unlikely to be duplicated.
Murphy has pretty consistently had a WAR of around 1.6 the past four years, and he’s been a good second baseman on the offensive side. While Murphy has been solid, the Mets have a young second baseman waiting in the wings who could probably more than double that WAR in the near future. This young gun’s name is Dilson Herrera, a guy who’s gotten some plate appearances at the major league level. Herrera will be 22 in 2016 to Murphy’s 30.
Herrera’s been one of the youngest players to get major league at-bats the past two years, so the results aren’t there for him yet, and Murphy could even realistically have a better 2016 than him. Still, Herrera is worth the switch. Herrera seems like he could be a good table setter, much like Murphy, with power, but with the one thing that Murphy doesn’t have — speed. Herrera’s skill set is solid all-around and he could be a potential All-Star. He’s ready for his chance too, as he slashed .331/.384/.515 this year, mostly in AAA Las Vegas. Vegas is known to be a hitter’s paradise, but as a 20-year-old last season, Herrera hit .323/.379/.479 between Double-A and Single-A ball in much less hitter-friendly parks. Herrera is a better hitter, with speed, who could even flash a little more power than Murphy.
As a 22-year-old, Mets fans should give him a year to get into the big league swing of things, but letting Murphy walk for Herrera could be an upgrade for the Mets in the long run. Herrera also walks a lot more than Murphy has, and would fit better at the top of the line-up, where Murphy is slotted. In 2014 people said that losing Jacoby Ellsbury really had a huge impact on the Red Sox, but in 2015 Mookie Betts easily outplayed him and while Betts is in his early 20’s, Ellsbury is in his early 30’s.
Letting Murphy walk will also keep money free for the Mets to extend pitching. Murphy wouldn’t take up the money that, say could be used for Noah Syndergaard, but it’s better not to have a bunch of money wrapped up in just everyday regulars that can be pretty easily replaced in your system. The Mets can wait a few years to start extending their pitchers, but starting by extending a pitcher this offseason could really help, because it could save the Mets money in the end by allowing them to avoid giving their pitchers a ton of money all at once.
Murphy is a good everyday player, but his playoff numbers are making him appear to be more than that. My advice to the Mets would be to enjoy the postseason hot streak he’s having, hope he helps you win a World Series, and use your cheap replacement this offseason. Losing Murphy isn’t even losing a top hitter. The Mets should be more worried about Yoenis Cespedes, but they’ll still have Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Conforto, and David Wright, who should all produce a higher oWAR than Murphy next year. Just let someone else overpay Murphy.