7/25/17

Christopher Soto - Is T.J. Rivera......Daniel Murphy 2.0 ?

9 comments

   T.J Rivera was an unheralded, undrafted free agent coming out of Wallace Community College/Troy University who no one really knew about when he graduated in 2011. However, a call from former Mets catcher Mackey Sasser, who was TJ's coach at WCC, recommended that the Mets should still sign him anyway. Six years later, that "tip" has developed into one of the best "pure hitters" on the Mets current roster.



     This shouldn't surprise us though.....throughout Rivera's entire MiLB career he has always had an excellent ability to put the bat on the ball. He was always near or above a .300 batting average and never struck out more than 73 times in any MiLB season. So why did he go undrafted? A) He's always been kind of a butcher in the field, he is a player who is gifted with the bat...but not the glove and B) Probably has something to do with his inability to play baseball at 1 place. TJ started his college career at Fairleigh Dickinson University, then transferred to Wallace Community College, and then transferred again to Troy University. All 3 of which are not really known for producing MLB caliber talent outside of Craig Kimbrel and Derek Holland from WCC.

     While the average fan may be surprised about his performance thus far.....those of us that are in the know and follow the minor leagues knew he was capable of this. As of matter of fact....every time I think of TJ Rivera......I think of Daniel Murphy when he was in his first few seasons with the Mets. Both were not really thought of as "prospects," both had minimal HR power but could hit the ball all over the field, and both were butchers with the glove.

     As they say though...."In God We Trust...All Others Bring Statistical Evidence." So let's take a look at this from a statistical standpoint....

     Not only is TJ Rivera similar to Daniel Murphy....he could actually be BETTER than him (during his time as a Met). Throughout their career paths, TJ has shown slightly better bat to ball skills and slightly more extra base hitting ability, albeit, Murphy completely skipped AAA whereas Rivera spent almost a year and a half there.

     At the end of the day.....the Mets MAY or MAY NOT have something here in TJ Rivera. He could be the solid contributor at 2B that this club needs to replace pending free agent Neil Walker. Either way, the Mets need to use the rest of 2017 to find out. As with Murphy back in 2011, when he was a utility player, the Mets need to move Rivera to 2B full time, allow him to focus on 1 position and see if he flourishes like Murphy did in 2012 while not killing them defensively. 







9 comments:

Eddie Corona said...

great analysis .. interesting thoughts...

Thomas Brennan said...

Chris - nice look at TJ.

I think he beefed up prior to 2016 in Vegas, hence his power uptick from a pretty powerless career prior to 2016.

Imagine if Flores did not get hurt last Sept on his headfirst slide into home, giving TJ the daylight to hit .333 in 105 at bats in Sept?

He impressed many with that.

Mack Ade said...

I originally missed on Rivera but so did everybody in the baseball world other than Mackey Sasser.

T.J. has hit everywhere he has played. but I have always been a 'defense first' proponent when it comes to middle fielders.

In a perfect world, I want Amed Rosario on SS and Luis Guillorme on second.

Rivera would get plenty of bat time as my IF-UT-1

Christopher Soto said...

@Thomas

Yea he beefed up a little bit....but the additional power actually is coming from a change in his "swing profile."

Again.....very similar to Daniel Murphy....

TJ Rivera 2011 to 2015 | 48%-52% GB, 32%-35% FB, 17%-20% Line Drives
TJ Rivera 2016 to 2017 | 37%-41% GB, 34%-38% FB, 24%-26% Line Drives

Daniel Murphy 2010 to 2014 | 42%-46% GB, 28%-32% FB, 18%-22% Line Drives
Daniel Murphy 2015 to 2017 | 33%-36% GB, 36%-42% FB, 22%-28% Line Drives

It goes back to that whole "launch angle" movement that is going around baseball.

Gary Seagren said...

I want to know who was so in love with Eric Campbell that TJ had to wait so long to get the call up.

Thomas Brennan said...

Campbell was so lousily versatile

Thomas Brennan said...

Good point, Chris!

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack is Mackie Sasser returning to New York soon? I want to tell people "look out, old Mackie's back!"

David Rubin said...

Christopher- SO true!!!! TJ can be said to be even more of a "pure" hitter than Murphy, and maybe, if they let him simply stay at second for a while and learn the position, he'll become at least MLB average there. And he could concentrate on his hitting and knowing that he's in the lineup every day without having to prove himself each and every at-bat. We've seen what that has done for guys like Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy...hmmmmm...what do they all have in common???? it's escaping me now but I'll get it in a minute!!!...

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