But here’s the thing with Cano: There’s only one of him. There are a few other top of the line second basemen, but it might be the least impressive position in the fantasy game (though shortstop comes close). What if an injury happens? What if you’re in a really deep league? What if you have an extra utility spot or gasp, a middle infield spot that you need filled. That’s where guys like Infante and Murphy come in. While I know that the season has already started and you’ve already drafted, both are available in a fair amount of leagues. So, let’s compare them.
First, let’s look into the immediate past to see what these two did in 2012.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at our own Draft Kit to see what we said about these two.
Unless you really need the extra steals from Infante, that looks like a pretty clear edge to Murphy. But remember, you never want to rely too much on one source for projections. Don’t get me wrong, we put a lot of work into it and I wouldn’t trade our Draft Kit for anything, but there are plenty of other thoughts out there.
All of a sudden, this looks like a much more interesting question, especially if you’re in a standard league that doesn’t factor things like OBP (or walks).
With differences like this, we need to look at some other things.
Prior to 2012
We’re not looking at much here.
Murphy was pretty good when he was on the field in 2011, putting up an AVG/OBP/SLG of .320/.362/.448. That came with rather unimpressive counted stats (49 runs/6 HR/49 RBI) and in only 109 games. He didn’t play at all in 2010, and was .266/.313/.427 in 2009, albeit with slightly better power numbers (12 homers/63 RBI).
While Infante’s had some great averages in the past, he’s had a hard time seeing the field. As a matter of fact, his 149 games played in 2012 was a career high. He played 148 in 2011 and 134 in 2010 but never played more than 96 games between 2006 and 2009. Prior to 2012, Infante hadn’t topped 10 homers, 50 RBI, or 10 steals since 2004.
You really can’t find much of an edge here. Murphy might get a slight nod because of their ages (Murphy is 28, Infante is 31), but don’t overrate that.
Let’s look elsewhere.
Let’s take a look at how Baseball Prospectus thinks these two will fit into their team’s respective lineups through the year.
|1.||Jordany Valdespin||Austin Jackson|
|2.||Daniel Murphy||Torii Hunter|
|3.||David Wright||Miguel Cabrera|
|4.||Ike Davis||Prince Fielder|
|5.||Lucas Duda||Victor Martinez|
|6.||Marlon Byrd||Andy Dirks|
|7.||John Buck||Jhonny Peralta|
|8.||Ruben Tejada||Alex Avila|
|9.||Pitcher’s Spot||Omar Infante|
Obviously, second’s a better place to bat in the order. That accounts for the at-bat differences that both us and ESPN have.
If Murphy stays healthy, batting in front of David Wright is a nice advantage. That should get him some nice pitches to hit. The problem is that in addition to Murphy’s own injury history, Wright has been a little injury prone in recent years. Actually, both have dealt with injuries this spring.
On the other hand, batting at the bottom of the Detroit order will give Infante a nice chance to score a lot of runs this year. While the 6-8 spots leave something to be desired, he should get plenty of at bats with men on base. When that happens, pitchers will give him good pitches to hit with Austin Jackson on deck and Miguel Cabrera & Prince Fielder looming.
Something else to consider there. Let’s say Torii Hunter gets hurt, or Victor Martinez goes down again and they move Hunter to the fifth spot. Who would the Tigers move to the two-hole in front of Cabrera? Personally, I’d go with Infante. Now, even if that happened, he would need to quickly perform. Even within that lineup, Andy Dirks and Jhonny Peralta could fit into that spot, at least temporarily.
So, even if you’re assuming that Infante will get a chance to bat in the two-hole, realize that Daniel Murphy is much more firmly entrenched there. In this case, the Mets’ weak lineup outside of David Wright and Ike Davis actually works to Murphy’s advantage.
It’s close, but Murphy is the better fantasy player.
First off, Murphy has shown to be more selective as a hitter. So, if you’re in a league that counts OBP or walks, he’s got the edge in an even bigger way.
But looking at the past few years, you’d have to say that Infante’s 2012 is about his max. That’s not to say that he won’t have similar numbers in 2013, but they won’t be that much better.
Murphy’s got better potential and at this point, you almost always go for the guy with the higher ceiling. Now, I am not saying that he’s going to be one of the game’s elite second basemen this year, but the ceiling is a little higher for him. He’s not only younger than Infante, but more locked in to a better spot in the order.
So, if you’re in a deep league or trying to fill a middle infield spot, opt for Murphy. But also know that if he’s unavailable and you need someone in a pinch, you could do worse than Infante, at least in the short term.