The fun thing about Daniel Murphy — or maybe the frustrating about Daniel Murphy, depending on whom you’re talking with — is that you can make about 100 different arguments about what role he should play for the 2010 Mets and not really be wrong.
You can use Sabermetrics 101, point to his .266/.313/.427 line from 2009 and say that’s unacceptable for a Major League first baseman. And you could add that he really only had one good partial season in the Minors — in Double-A Binghamton as a 23-year-old in 2008.
Or you can dive a little deeper into his Fangraphs page, as Sam Page has, to show that, despite all his reputation, some hiccups and a tiny sample size, Murphy demonstrated enough range at first base to indicate he might be a good enough defender to make up for any offensive shortcomings.
And you can claim — as I have — that we haven’t seen enough of Murphy to know how good he’ll be moving forward, and that 707 Major League plate appearances are not enough to judge a 24-year-old hitter.
A less convincing argument, I think, is the one that says Mike Jacobs deserves to start over Murphy on the strength of his 99 Major League home runs and 308 RBIs. Sam does a pretty good job tearing that apart in the Amazin’ Avenue piece linked above, and Patrick Flood goes to town on Jacobs’ defense here.
As I wrote yesterday, I don’t even know that it’s worth the time because I can’t imagine the Mets really would consider starting Jacobs at first base. But the Mets have blown my mind plenty of times before, so here’s this:
We don’t know yet that Daniel Murphy is not good. We certainly don’t know that he is good, but we don’t know that he’s not good either. He has yet to fully embarrass or distinguish himself at the Major League level.
We do know that Mike Jacobs is not good. I’m sorry. I know he hits home runs. He also plays terrible defense and never gets on base. And he’s 29, so he’s probably not getting any better.
Murphy, opening the season at 25, could be. As hard as it may be to believe considering how long it seems like we’ve been watching him play, he is the devil we don’t know, which, as far as I’m concerned, is better than the devil we know isn’t very good.