On Wednesday night, the New York Mets managed to rally back from a four run deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals for the second straight game as Angel Pagan won the game with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning. Just as important, the Mets were able to gain a game on Atlanta in the wild-card race, leaving them 7½ games behind. It was a great night at Citi Field, without a doubt, and the team now hopes to go for three straight against St. Louis tomorrow and to finally push themselves away from the .500 mark.
However, instead of scrolling through all of the highlights of Wednesday night's victory, I want to focus on one player in particular who seems to be undervalued on this team on a very consistent basis: Daniel Murphy. Following the victory on Wednesday night, it was Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Isringhausen that everyone wanted to talk with. Now don't get me wrong, each of them contributed in significant ways tonight, and they have been a terrific source of talent for this Mets team all year long. But I couldn't help but notice that there sat Daniel Murphy, all alone at his locker, packing up and getting ready to leave the ballpark. In Wednesday game, Murphy went 1-for-5 with a double, his sixteenth hit in ten games, a stretch where he his batting .381. Again, I understand that Murphy was far from the story in Wednesday's game and that he had no direct impact on the outcome of the victory. However, it amazes me how much the media tends to overlook the season Daniel Murphy is having for this Mets team. He has been one of the best hitters in the National League over the past eight weeks, and is a very viable candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, hitting at .308 with 102 hits.
I spoke briefly with Murphy before Wednesday's game, who said he has enjoyed being able to have so much success thus far in 2011: "My goal every day is to try and do something to help this team win. That's obviously the goal...I've enjoyed being successful, but I also continue to try and get better every day."
A lot of people like to criticize Murphy for his defense, which has been an apparent struggle ever since he came up to the Major Leagues in 2008. Having said that it's been quite clear from watching him over the past month that the longer he plays, the more comfortable he is in the field. He has grown to be extremely versatile, and he is now capable of truly playing solidly at first, second, and third base. Wednesday, specifically, it was a pleasure to watch him at third base. Throughout the night, Murphy handled every ball hit at him with ease, including one ball which took a bad bounce, something that does not get recorded on the scorecard: "I'm starting to make a lot of plays I struggled with earlier in the year, and they become more routine every time they happen," Murphy said. When asked if he could see himself returning to the outfield at some point, he replied "Well I worked with Mookie [Wilson] a lot at the beginning of the year, and I think if called upon, I could do it. There's a learning curve there, and unfortunately I had to grow in front of 40,000 people and got exposed, but I feel a lot more comfortable there now."
After observing Daniel Murphy very closely over the past couple days, I see how hard he works to make not only himself better but also the team as a whole better. He is clearly one of the most well liked guys in the clubhouse and is constantly encouraging his teammates, doing whatever he can to see it that the Mets come out on top each and every day. I'm not sure what the future holds for Daniel Murphy, but whatever it may be, I think it's one the media should start paying a little more attention to.
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