It doesn’t matter that Daniel Murphy hit the game-winning homer Sunday afternoon, or that he’s the Mets’ hottest hitter, he should be in the leadoff spot again Monday night at Citi Field.
Because of Murphy’s high on-base percentage, batting him leadoff is something I have advocated, and I’m glad Terry Collins was thinking outside the box enough to make the move.
“He gets on base, because he can hit,’’ Collins told ESPN.com. “And, when he’s swinging good, he can get some walks. We’ve got to get some people on ahead of David [Wright]. That’s for sure.’’
Notice how Collins didn’t mention getting on base ahead of Ike Davis, but I guess he couldn’t say that with a straight face.
Murphy is the seventh Met to hit leadoff this young season, and of the previous six, is there one you can note with conviction will be here next year?
Ruben Tejada (12 times), Jordany Valdespin (10), Mike Baxter (eight), Collin Cowgill (seven), Justin Turner (two) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (one) have all appeared without much success at the top or the order. Mets leadoff hitters have hit a major league low .185 with a 29th ranked .255 on-base percentage.
Collins was non-committal on how long he’ll use Murphy leading off, but considering he’s a .300 hitter with a .337 on-base percentage, he doesn’t have better options.
With their leadoff hitters and Davis, the Mets have two slots in the batting order hitting less than .200, and overall they have four positions in their regular lineup hitting below .240.
Collins thought about Murphy hitting first during spring training, but then he had to come up with a center fielder and decide what to do with Tejada. Meanwhile, Murphy, because of his willingness to take a pitch, also seemed suited to hitting second.
“I thought about it in spring training, to be honest, whether or not to lead Murph off,’’ Collins said. “We’ll just see how it goes. It might be something we’ve certainly got to consider as we get deeper into the season, because he can hit.
“He gets on base. If he does that, certainly we’ve got to keep our options open with Murph being the leadoff hitter.’’
Murphy hitting first seems the way to go for now, but slotting him there doesn’t alleviate all of Collins’ concerns. Rick Ankiel can be an answer defensively in center field, but the outfield remains subpar.
The Mets now need a No. 2 hitter, but because Tejada insists on hitting fly balls, he’s not an ideal fit there.
Let’s face it, currently Murphy and Wright are the only hitters in the lineup who are reliable.