Since his arrival from the New York Mets, second baseman Daniel Murphy’s season for the ages is powering the Washington Nationals back to October.
When the Washington Nationals signed Daniel Murphy away from the New York Mets, they hoped to tip the balance of power from the defending National League champions. Instead, they landed a legitimate MVP candidate.
Since his arrival on the Naval Yard, Murphy has filled in the gap in Bryce Harper’s production and is the main spark in the powerful Nationals offense.
Whether they need a double sacrifice fly or a homer, Murphy gets the job done. His .345 batting average heading into Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia Phillies leads the NL. So do his 40 doubles and .983 OPS. All career-highs. Escaping the roomy Citi Field, his 25 home runs nearly double his career best. Everything the Nats’ could dream of last winter has come true.
More from District on Deck
- Latest DraftKings Sportsbook Promo Code in Maryland: Bet $5, Win $200 Guaranteed
- Nationals Claim Jeter Downs Off Waivers
- Washington Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Robert Hassell III
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- 3 Free Agents the Nationals Should Gamble On
For casual fans, Murphy’s four home run performance and MVP last year in the Mets NL Championship Series sweep of the Chicago Cubs made him a front-page star. What he has done this year for Washington already makes him a folk hero. The two-time All-Star will never win a Gold Glove, but his Silver Slugger this fall will shine just as bright.
Outside of his two home run night on June 29 when he beat his old team the Mets 4-2, there is not one game where he dominated with extra-base hits. Only once, June 10 against the Phillies, has he hit over one double. Although he has multiple hits in 53 games this year, Murphy has base hits in 103 and reached base in 116. His excellent year comes out of his consistency.
How consistent? Consider his on-base percentage. At Nationals Park this year, it is .389. Away from Washington; it is .388. Remarkable.
Aside from playing in a hitting-friendly park now, what has changed? Murphy is making more contact and not hurting the Nats when he does not reach base. In 2013, he whiffed 95 times in 697 plate appearances with New York, drawing 32 walks.
This year, the strikeout total is 55 in 541 plate appearances with 33 walks. The last two seasons, he grounded into 15 double plays. In 2016, that number drops to four. For a hitter at the end of their peak years, Murphy is 31, those adjustments are incredible.
At some point, the Nationals will move him to first base as his range at second declines with age. Signed through the 2018 season, Murphy will get ample opportunity to etch his name in the postseason annals.
Who knows, he might grab a World Series MVP while he is here. If it was not for Kris Bryant on the Cubs, Murphy’s hands would be on the NL award this year.