Daniel Murphy brings a lot of knowns to the Nationals roster as a proven veteran capable of carrying a high average with low strikeouts. He may even hit a few homers, too, as evidenced by his power surge in the 2015 playoffs.
But Murphy does present some questions regarding his defense, especially given his now-infamous blunders in the postseason. Murphy was a hero for the Mets throughout much of October, but his errors in key spots were among several reasons New York lost the World Series to Kansas City.
Now with the Nationals, Murphy looked back on those mistakes when talking about his defensive shortcomings.
"I would have preferred to catch that ball in Game 4 and Game 5, but I didn't," he said. "I think it's an opportunity to take a step back in the offseason and realize that there's work to be done defensively."
Murphy played mostly at the corner infield positions early in his career before switching to second base. Though he has spent most of his time at second for four seasons now, the veteran says there is still room to learn about the position.
"I think my goal each year is to be as consistent as possible on the routine play. I also feel like each year as I've been able to play the position more, second base, I've been able to grow defensively. I know that when I started there, there were some definite growing pains, but I feel like each year I get more comfortable and hopefully if we with our staff here and the infield staff and myself get some work done we can continue that curve headed in the right direction," he explained.
The Nationals signed Murphy to be their starting second baseman and, of course, they took a long look at his defense before offering a contract. General manager Mike Rizzo expressed confidence in Murphy's defensive abilities in Thursday's introductory press conference.
"We take the entire package when we sign the player," Rizzo said. "We love the way Daniel gets after it. He works hard as a defender and as an offensive player. He's our second baseman, we're running him out there every day. When you see a player play 19 times a season for as many years as I've had, I've seen him make unbelievable plays at second base."
Rizzo continued to echo Murphy in saying there is room for improvement.
"He's obviously going to work extremely hard to be more consistent at second base," he said.
His abilities on defense may be questioned, but Murphy's versatility in the infield presents a big positive for the Nationals. With durability concerns both at third base with Anthony Rendon and at first with Ryan Zimmerman, Murphy's experience at both positions could come in handy.