Mets Bright Spots in 2013: Murphy, Lagares, and Duda

hebner80I almost never boo a player. I saw my first baseball game in 1962, and the first Met I ever booed was Richie Hebner in 1979. Using rough math, I attended about 500 games in between those two events. That 1979 team was miserable, going 63-99, and Hebner made no secret of his disdain for everything about playing on it. He sure seemed to be going through the motions, and finally I broke down and started letting him have it. Lack of talent is just a fact of life, and I’m not going to scream at a guy because he is in over his head. Lack of effort, though, I cannot tolerate. Hebner had it coming to him.

That gets me to the 2013 Mets, a team short on talent, but one that I always believed was giving its honest all. For that reason, although I am mostly disappointed in how the season went, I wanted to give a shout out to a few players I enjoyed this year for various reasons. They gave me reasons to smile and enjoy this 2013 campaign.

Mr. Dependable: Daniel Murphy

murphy slidesBefore the year began I wondered if maybe Murphy was a possible trading chip. We did not blog in 2012, but I will tell you that I spent most of last year wishing Murphy away. Even then, it was not that I thought he was a bad player, not at all, but like many other people I focused too much on what he cannot do, and not enough on what he is. A hell of a baseball player.

Daniel Murphy shows up, plays hard, hits, and works. Sure, Murphy will never be a fabulous defender, but he has become so much better at second, due to that work effort. And now, in 2013, at a point in most player’s careers where what you see is all you are going to get, Murphy steals 20 bases in 23 attempts. You win championships with stars, and with players like Daniel Murphy.

The Big Surprise: Juan Lagares

Lagares Gold GloveLagares, all by himself, was able to prove me right, and wrong. I harped many times in the offseason that a great defensive center fielder could earn his way at Citi Field almost exclusively with his glove. Lagares showed folks how that could be true. But at the same time I never paid Lagares himself any attention, as I was not aware of the fabulous defensive player he was. In fact, when he was called up, I was dismissive of his ability to help the team at all.

Well, not any more. Juan made hard catches easy and impossible ones possible. A rocket arm, which he showed off again to nail a runner at the plate last night, is a fantastic bonus. Surrounded by the correct corners, he could easily help this team again in 2014. He surely helped them in 2013.

The Man with the Moment: Lucas Duda

I watch baseball to build memories. As time passes only the most special endure. The 2013 Mets had their share of great games, but for me one will stand out the most. I was at Citi Field on that wet night when Mariano Rivera threw out the first pitch, and also the last pitch. A pitch that Lucas Duda deposited into short right field to complete a thrilling walk-off victory.

The Dude’s future with the team is way up in the air, but that game ensures him a legacy around here.

Okay, sure, there were more, many more. I didn’t even get to Matt Harvey, or Zack Wheeler, or the great David Wright. But those guys are the talents most easily focused on, and I wanted to take today to remember what these three players provided me in 2013 before the season is over and it is forgotten. On a day I started off by talking about booing, I wanted to give them all a deserved cheer.

Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Lucas Duda, thanks for making 2013 a more watchable season.

Duda rivera

 

 

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7 comments

  1. Brian Joura says:

    Lagares has been a joy to watch play in the field. It’s interesting that his arm has won so many raves yet to me the thing is how he, for lack of a better word, attacks when he’s on defense. In last night’s game, he charged a ball and threw out a runner at the plate. The throw was on target but it bounced. But it didn’t matter because he charged the ball so hard he was only about 10 steps behind second base when he threw the ball.

    I know he has a background as a SS but it makes me wonder why that hard-charging style is not taught to everyone.

  2. I would also add Jonathon Niese, when healthy, and Dillon Gee’s second half. Murphy has become one of may all-time favorite Mets. Lagares may be on his way as well. Let’s hope The Dark Knight and David Wright return healthy next spring. With a couple more key additions, we could suddenly find ourselves with a very competitive team in ’14.

  3. Michael Geus says:

    Yet another stolen base for Murphy today.

  4. Patrick Boegel says:

    Murphy is a weird bird to figure out. I’ve always really liked him, but he seems to have slightly regressed since 2011 and there is nothing to put the finger on entirely. The overall raw numbers are good, but would like to see less Ks a touch more walks slightly higher OBP, which I suppose could all boil down to being in a better balanced lineup in 2011, ie Reyes, Beltran….

  5. DD says:

    Well, I’ve got to chime in here.

    Well do I remember another time, when I, a person transplanted to New York and therefore ignorant to the particulars of Mets fandom in the 1970’s, asked you why Hebner was worthy of all that disdain. You told me; “he tanked it.” Good enough.

    On the other hand I have been following the career of Lagares, at least since those days two years ago when his batting average went through the roof. The cry was that his batting average on balls in play, not sure what the acronym is, was some unsustainable number, expect a regression. And a regression did happen, but Juan was still in the game, and I was plenty puzzled why he never got much love. He looked good in Arizona Fall baseball, I got more excited, and so forth.

    Another thing: most of the scouts were sure that he would never stick in centerfield, and that is pretty much what I object to about scouts in a nutshell. They knew as well as I did that Lagares was a converted infielder, but apparently they felt that what he could do in 2011 was his upper limit. But that’s not always the case with many humans, including Juan Lagares. How damn stupid does those assessments look today?

    Final thought: these young Mets players, Harvey, Wheeler, Lagares, even Tovar: not one of them seems to feel that he doesn’t belong in the majors. That “don’t hit it to me” fear, isn’t apparent.

    That is an attribute to the farm system, the training staff if you will. I likes it. And I do not miss the days of trying to get excited about Grant Roberts or Jae Seo.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Thanks for the thoughts DD, and on Lagares, he sure seems to have been mostly dismissed.

      Not any more.

      Also, the acronym you are looking for is BABIP, you know me, always looking to help.

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