Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Up The Middle

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter.

I know it may not be the popular opinion this season, but I have to admit that the Mets impressed me this year. Coming into the season they were written off as less than mediocre and even I didn't expect to see anything from them.  I thought it was simply going to be a transition year with a lot of growing pains.  Yes, it was a transition year and yes, there were plenty of growing pains but there were also glimmers of hope.  There were some nice looks at the future this year.

One of the places for optimism is the middle infield.  At one time or another Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, and Ruben Tejada all impressed with both their fielding and their offense.

Daniel Murphy had the most consistent playing time of anyone on the team before his injury.  Murphy eliminated any doubts people had about his offense after a somewhat trying 2009 season and a 2010 season plagued by injury.  His defense also wasn't a liability.  He played mostly 1st base but his 2nd base defense wasn't really an issue until the injury.  It would be hard for any player to do everything right at a position they 1) never became totally familiar with and 2) hadn't played in a while, and Murphy's situation was unlucky.  However, he still showed his value at 1st base and even played some 3rd base this season.  He was more versatile and consistent than he ever has been.

Justin Turner was another very versatile member of the infield.  With the injury to Ike Davis he became the 2nd baseman while Murphy was at 1st and even the 3rd baseman when Wright was out.  He did everything as expected on defense and only had a few mental lapses towards the end of the season.  His offense was what impressed me the most though.  In every month except for June and August he hit over .270.  I know people don't like the talk about a player being "clutch" but without the stats, it seemed like he always got the big hit and RBIs.  Not much was expected of Turner which seemingly made his season so much more impressive.

And of course Ruben Tejada could be quite the piece of the Mets future once 2012 rolls around.  Tejada has never been much of a hitter and while he still wasn't anything special on offense this year, he wasn't a rally killer either.  During the last month of the season he even started running and stealing more bases than he ever has.  But this season and his career has really been about his defense.  Only a special percentage of the population really understands the specific defensive statistics (and I'm not part of that population) so instead I ask you to think of all the highlight-reel plays he made.  The catches on pop-ups near the right field seats.  The jumping throws that may or may not have looked like another shortstop's throws.  All of it.  It was really quite impressive.  Yes, he is not Jose Reyes.  But he isn't a scrub either.

There were some nice surprises from the Mets this season.  And lucky for us, none of those surprises are due to be free agents this winter.

Let's Go Mets!

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