Pitching and defense still win championships, and you can add speed and smart baserunning as the other valuable components.
The Royals taught the Mets a valuable lesson in the World Series, winning the title in five games. I picked them to do it in six.
The zombie analogy still holds. You can’t kill the Royals. They didn’t just get hot at the right time. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they were the best team in baseball.
They also opened the doors to the free agent market, which now includes Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen, Darren O’Day, Steve Pearce and Gerardo Parra. The offseason officially begins today. Unleash the dumb rumors.
I’m still ranking Pearce as the most likely and Chen as the least likely to re-sign. And I’m still pushing for the Orioles to make a serious run at Ben Zobrist, though a starting pitcher should remain the No. 1 priority.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy was a postseason sensation until the World Series. He batted .421 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs in the National League Division Series and Championship Series and already was touted as a big winner in free agency.
Murphy went 3-for-20 with no home runs or RBIs in the World Series. His error on Eric Hosmer’s ground ball in the eighth inning of Game 4 allowed the tying run to score and led to a 5-3 loss. He misplayed another ball last night in the Royals’ five-run 12th. Fans offered sarcastic applause when he fielded one cleanly later in the inning.
Tyler Clippard shoulders much of the blame in Game 4 for his back-to-back walks before Hosmer came to the plate - let’s not give Mr. Free Pass a free pass - but Murphy needs to get the out. He was such a butcher the last two nights, he should be trimming the fat on my next steak.
I’m writing about Murphy this morning because the Orioles like him and could enter the bidding over the winter, though the New York Post reported that he’s going to receive the $15.8 million qualifying offer. There also are concerns that he might have priced himself out of Baltimore, but we’re always warned about falling in love with spring training and September stats. The same holds true in October.
Murphy made $8 million this season while batting .281/.322/.449 with 38 doubles, two triples, a career high 14 home runs and 73 RBIs in 130 games. He turns 31 in April.
Murphy has a career .331 on-base percentage in seven seasons. The Orioles’ leaders this year were Davis at .361, Manny Machado at .359 and Nolan Reimold at .344 in 61 games. Wieters was next at .319 in 75 games.
Most of Murphy’s glove work has come at second base, where he’s appeared in 507 games. The Orioles are set with Jonathan Schoop. Murphy also has appeared in 86 games at third base. The Orioles are set with Machado. But he’s also played 190 at first base and 60 in left field.
Obviously, having a designated hitter in the American League creates another potential spot for Murphy.
The Orioles want to keep Davis and have spoken to agent Scott Boras on multiple occasions. Managing partner Peter G. Angelos said on Oct. 5 that it remained his intention to re-sign Davis. However, the slugging first baseman will land a contract that shatters the biggest given to an Oriole - Adam Jones’ six-year, $85.5 million deal - and questions remain whether they will go the extra mile (and dollars).
In the meantime, the Orioles may kick the tires on Murphy, as they say in the industry. But what about surrendering a draft pick if he does, indeed, get a qualifying offer?
The Post also projected that Murphy could receive a contract similar to the four-year, $52 million deal the Yankees gave third baseman Chase Headley.
* For the second year in a row, the Orioles were shut out in voting for the Fielding Bible Awards.
Only one player is chosen at each position in the majors. Machado won it in 2013 and Wieters was honored in 2011.
The winners are chosen by a panel of 12 “experts.” Here’s the list:
First base: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Second base: Ian Kinsler, Tigers
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons, Braves
Left field: Starling Marte, Pirates
Center field: Kevin Kiermaier, Rays
Right field: Jason Heyward, Cardinals
Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants
Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel, Astros
Multi-position: Ender Inciarte, Diamondbacks