After three weeks of watching their new second baseman, Neil Walker, crush baseballs, New York Mets fans may be asking themselves a simple question: “Daniel who?”

OK, that’s a touch dramatic. Folks undoubtedly remember Daniel Murphy, whose historic postseason power binge helped push the club to the World Series last season.

Murphy was a career Met, after all, drafted by the club in 2006. When he skipped town this winter and signed with the division-rival Washington Nationals, he left a gaping hole on the right side of the infield and in the hearts of the Queens faithful.

Enter Walker, acquired by the Mets in the trade that sent left-hander Jon Niese to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Walker was a perfectly serviceable Murphy replacement. In fact, the two men’s 2015 stats aligned with eerie precision.

Walker is 30; Murphy turned 31 on April 1. Walker hit 16 home runs with 71 RBI and a .756 OPS last season. Murphy hit 14 home runs, drove in 73 and posted a .770 OPS.

It was a wash defensively as well, with Murphy and Walker each posting minus-three defensive runs saved (DRS) at second, per FanGraphs.

Murphy, though, had that October pedigree. He’d flexed his muscles on the biggest stage and left an indelible imprint on franchise history.

Walker, on the other hand, was just some guy. The backup plan after the team whiffed on Ben Zobrist.

Not any more. After going 2-for-4 with a home run in Monday’s 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds, Walker now has eight dingers on the season to go along with a .950 OPS.

By contrast, Murphy didn’t hit his eighth home run last season until Aug. 7.

Walker’s early surge has put him in elite company and squarely in the good graces of the Citi Field masses, as Newsday‘s Laura Albanese elucidated:

Walker has seven homers over his last 10 games and joined Jeff Kent as the only other Mets second baseman to hit eight homers in April. Mind you, there are still five days left in the month. And by the time fans were chanting “Ne-il Walk-er” as he walked to his position in the top of the eighth, it was clear that memories of the second basemen that got away had long been erased.

Interestingly, three of the switch-hitting Walker’s long balls have come from the right side, matching his career high.

“In the minor leagues I had more power from the right side than I did the left side,” Walker said, per’s Adam Rubin. “Things just got away from me over the course of a lot of at-bats.”

We’re still in small-sample territory, to be sure. But Walker launched 23 home runs as recently as 2014. The pop is real.

Murphy is swinging it for the Nats, to the tune of a .397 average and 1.100 OPS. And Washington currently sits atop the NL East at 14-4, three games ahead of New York.

This isn’t about schadenfreude. Murphy could easily end up with better numbers when the 162-game grind has run its course.

So far, however, the Mets have to be thrilled with their middle infield addition. In addition to raking in the box, he’s flashing “an easygoing personality that seems to mesh with the Mets’ mix,” per Newsday‘s Anthony Rieber.

The only bad news is that Walker is due to hit the open market after the season. If he keeps going like this, he’ll command a hefty payday from someone and could well become the next beloved ex-Met.

For now, he’s doing awesome things in the blue and orange and anchoring an offense that is missing slugger Yoenis Cespedes because of a balky knee.

The Mets will ultimately rise or fall on the strength of their young arms, but they’ll need to score enough to support them. More fence-clearing tendencies from Walker would be a significant step in that direction.

Skipper Terry Collins summed it up best when asked if he knew Walker possessed this kind of thump, per Maria Guardado of NJ Advance Media: “I did not… But I’m glad he’s got it right now.”

Even in a world where Daniel Murphy exists, the Mets are equally glad they’ve got Walker.


All statistics current as of April 25 and courtesy of and unless otherwise noted.

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