For the fourth and final post in this series, I’d like to finally post my decision on who should be the Mets starting second baseman. (For whatever this is worth.) I’ve managed to pare down the field from 9 (or 11, depending on your point of view) to a final three. The last three are:
- Daniel Murphy
- Brad Emaus
- Justin Turner
So which of these guys should start the season as the Mets second baseman? Let’s talk first about the guy who probably should *not*.
#3 – Daniel Murphy
Surprised? I love Daniel Murphy as a player. He’s obsessed with hitting, he’s made every opportunity to learn new positions, and he hits left-handed. What’s not to like? Best of all he’s proved that he can be a successful hitter at the major league level. But Murph is still a work in progress at second base, and due to the awful injury he suffered early last year, he’s still acquiring 2B as a position.
Daniel Murphy should without a doubt be the backup 2B, in my eyes. Not only that, he should be the backup for Ike Davis at first, and perhaps even David Wright at third. Every few games, the Mets should give Murph a shot to play second and spell the starter – perhaps based on the lefty-righty matchup (both the remaining contenders are right-handed), and beyond that, he should hit. And if the guy who is the starting 2B can’t cut the mustard either at the plate, or gets injured, Daniel Murphy should be first in line for a shot. But the Mets could really benefit from a Ben Zobrist / Sean Rodriguez-type of super-sub, getting a good left-handed bat into the lineup whenever possible, and letting Daniel Murphy get reps at a couple of positions in the meantime.
So that brings us to our last two candidates: Justin Turner and Brad Emaus. First let’s talk about Turner.
#2 – Justin Turner
Justin Turner is a 27-year old second baseman who came over to the Mets during the 2010 season, and just annihilated AAA pitching. His slash line for the Mets’ affiliate?
And it’s not even that out of the ordinary, as his triple-slash for Baltimore’s AAA affiliate wasn’t too different in 2009. So why am I arguing to keep him OFF the 2011 team? There’s a couple of major reasons: first and foremost is Turner’s defense. It’s not great, by all accounts. He doesn’t have the range of some of the other potential 2B candidates, and seems to be more suited to the hot corner, rather than the pivot. In the end, I honestly think he’d be worthy of a shot to start – if the other guy on the roster didn’t exist. They’re very similar.
#1 – Brad Emaus
Emaus is extremely similar to Justin Turner: really good hitting numbers in AAA, ability to play third base as well, just enough power to be dangerous. Hits right-handed. But there are a couple of good reasons why Emaus should get the spot over Turner.
- Emaus is about 14 months younger than Turner.
- Emaus is a Rule 5 pick, meaning he needs to be returned to the Blue Jays if he doesn’t remain on the ML roster.
- Emaus is slightly better defensively.
- Emaus has an even better K/BB% than Turner.
- Emaus has a bit better power potential.
As for Turner, the only things that he has going for him over Emaus are an ability to play a little shortstop, and a history of slightly better hitting consistency in AAA. And yes, Emaus’s numbers are probably a little inflated from playing in Las Vegas in AAA, which is notorious for being a good hitters’ park. (Toby Hyde at the Mets Minor League Blog does a great job of breaking down the splits.) The positives for Emaus outweigh the positives for Turner, AND Turner can be stashed in the minors for a little while to give Emaus a chance to play at the major league level.
Given the host of options that the Mets have this year, the best option going forward is playing Brad Emaus at the pivot, and giving him a chance to play. If he does terribly, then there are other options waiting in the wings in Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy who should be able to carry the load. But not only does Emaus probably make the team better than the other options in the short term, if he can manage to live up to some of his potential, we could have a long-term solution at the pivot for a few years to come.
(Or at least until Reese Havens is ready.)