Daniel Murphy took the baseball world by storm in the 2015 postseason.
Murphy, now a member of the rival Washington Nationals, became a Met hero in the fall classic, hitting seven home runs (six in consecutive games) and walking away with the NLCS MVP award.
After the Mets lost to Kansas City in the World Series (still heartbroken), Murphy was outspoken about staying with the Mets. He wanted to work something out. Besides David Wright, Murphy was the longest tenured player on the Mets. Having been through some awful seasons with this franchise, he wanted to be a part of the turnaround.
The Mets extended their qualifying offer, but nobody expected Murphy to take it. GM Sandy Alderson seemed very comfortable with letting Murph walk. So he did.
Enter Neil Walker.
Born and raised in the beautiful suburbs of Pittsburgh, Neil Walker has always been a fan favorite. Nicknamed, “The Pittsburgh Kid,” Walker climbed his way through the Pirates’ farm system and earned himself a September call-up in 2009.
A career .272 hitter, Walker brings toughness, awareness and a high very high baseball IQ to the big apple.
As a college student in the Pittsburgh area, I’ve seen firsthand what Walker brings to the table.
He isn’t overly flashy with the glove, but he will make all of the plays he is suppose to make. His range isn’t the best because of his big body frame, but he is a sound defender who is very good at turning the double play. Defensively, he is an upgrade from Daniel Murphy.
Walker, drafted as a catcher and later converted to a middle infielder won the Silver Slugger at second base in 2014 after clobbering 23 homers. The guy is an above-average athlete. Out of high school, Walker received a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech to play football. He was a three-sport athlete who excelled at pretty much everything.
The one knock on Walker has been his ineffectiveness in the postseason.
He compiled two hits and one RBI in the first ever, “win or go home” wild card game in 2013. Since then, the Pirates have played in a five-game series vs. the Cardinals, and two more wild card games. He is hitless in those seven games.
However, I think it is unfair to call him a “poor postseason player” because it is hard to get into any kind of groove in one game. The Pirates have also faced some pretty good pitchers in those wild card games. Their offense as a whole struggled to get going, so it wasn’t like Walker was the only one not producing at the plate.
Walker vs. Murphy:
Murph’s hot streak in the playoffs was insane. So insane that it may never happen again. He isn’t really a home-run hitter, compared to Walker, who is one of the better power-hitting second basemen in baseball.
The point is, while all Mets fans will forever be grateful to Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker is a more reliable player.
When you talk about a complete baseball player, with good offense and defense, Neil Walker fits that mold. So Mets fans…meet your new second baseman!
When Walker was a kid playing little league, he was primarily a left-handed hitter.
Opposing parents and coaches feared for their kids’ safety due to Walker’s power and ability to handle the bat.
At one point, it became a serious safety issue; so they made him switch; They made him bat right-handed, because he ‘hit the ball too hard from the left side’.
Baseball runs in his family and from such a young age, he always showed he had a knack for the game.