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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: DANIEL MURPHY 2B NEW YORK METS

                                                      Daniel Murphy

When it comes to the respective draft stocks of given fantasy baseball hitters, the one stat you don't want to have as your best contributing category is batting average.  The reason for this is easy as batting average is the most volatile stat of the standard 5 in ROTO formats.  With BABIP luck and team defense playing a big role in a player's average, having that number as your calling card is never a good thing.  In addition, a player whose is known most of his average means their power and stolen bases are not much to talk about which again shows the overall limitations of such a hitter.  New York Mets 2B Daniel Muphy has been one of these players for the majority of his career since becoming a regular with the team in 2009.  A .290 career hitter, Murphy was the classic player who was better in real life than in fantasy baseball.  However Murphy did his best to change that assessment in 2013 as he finally figured out how to better diversify his game and make him more attractive as a possible second base weapon.  It was through Murphy's gains in stolen bases where he made his biggest breakthrough last season as he swiped a career-high 23 bags while getting caught on just 3 occasions.  The new influx of steals went well with the rest of Murphy's game as he hit .286 with 13 home runs and 92 runs scored to go along with 78 RBI.  In the end Murphy finished 2013 as a top ten fantasy baseball second baseman and is aiming for a repeat in 2014.  So with that said let's figure out if Murphy can repeat such a nice season and whether or not he can be trusted as a starting second baseman from the start.

First let's get the obvious stuff out of the way as Murphy once again is a very good batting average asset.  A career .290 hitter, Murphy has hit as high as .320 for a season and is a lock for at least a .286 mark and likely much more.  In addition, Murphy has been durable the last two seasons in compiling 571 and 658 at-bats the last two seasons.  Those major at-bat totals are a big boost to Murphy's counting stats which means another 90 runs and close to 80 RBI is very realistic.  Unfortunately Murphy doesn't have much pop to speak of as last season's 13 home runs were a career-high and the fact he needed so many at-bats to get them points to how mediocre he is there.  Turning 29 this April, Murphy is past his ceiling years so he won't be making many bursts there.

Now let's get to the stolen bases.  Before the 23 bases Murphy stole last season, his previous high was only 10 in 2012.  Thus the 23 can be argued it is an outlier number that likely won't be repeated.  I am always of the mindset to show me a second time you can do it before I totally buy into something.  That goes for Murphy and his speed this season.  Expect around 10-15 and anything more should be viewed as a bonus.  While Murphy clearly has figured some things out there, again I have to see him do it again when catchers are more prepared for him to run.  Simple stuff there.

As far as Murphy being a daily second base fantasy baseball option, I think he qualifies there but towards the bottom of that list.  Murphy is a durable, good average hitter, who can surely help you so don't automatically think he will come back to earth.  There is enough to work with here to get by with a solid return on your investment.

2014 PROJECTION:  .296 11 HR 77 RBI 92 R 19 SB

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