Although Murphy is an elite hitter, his defense leaves much to be desired. According to FanGraphs, he had a -15 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in 2017, which ranked last among qualified infielders.
Unfortunately, Murphy has also been trending the wrong way in recent years. His DRS has decreased in each of the last three seasons.
In addition to Murphy’s deteriorating defensive abilities, he may be hurt by his knee surgery in 2018. It would have the biggest impact on his range, but could prevent him from turning around his defensive woes.
Fortunately for Murphy and the Nats, Trea Turner can provide some help up the middle. His range ranks near the top among shortstops, which will allow him to get to balls up the middle that Murphy cannot reach.
Murphy also has Ryan Zimmerman on the other side of him. Zimmerman’s defensive metrics are not great, but that is largely due to his throwing struggles. He has above average range at first base, which will allow him to help Murphy as well.
Between Turner and Zimmerman, Murphy is covered on both sides. The Nats may still be slightly hurt by Murphy’s defense, but it will not make a huge difference.
Murphy is a below average defender, but any team would still love to have him. Despite ranking last among all qualified infielders in DRS in 2017, he still accumulated 4.3 WAR, which was tops among National League second basemen.
The fact that Murphy is so valuable, despite his defensive woes, really speaks to his offensive prowess.
Despite Murphy being a defensive liability, he is a tremendously productive player.