The Washington Nationals fell to the Phillies 4-1 Thursday night despite a double and RBI by Daniel Murphy. Murphy has been one of the best players in the National League this season, but won’t be winning MVP.
It’s Daniel Murphy’s world, we’re just living in it. The Nationals second basemen eclipsed 40 doubles in a season for the first time in his career on Thursday. He is the first second baseman in Nationals history (2005-present) to reach that mark. On the season, he hasn’t just been one of the best players on the team. He’s been one of the best in the league.
Murphy currently leads the NL in hits (172), batting average (.345), slugging percentage (.595), OPS (.982), multi-hit games (53) and doubles. He is second in RBI with 101, trailing only the Colorado Rockies’ Nolan Arenado. These are numbers of an MVP candidate, and one that more often than not would be running away with the award.
This season, however, there is a different atmosphere than in years prior. The Chicago Cubs are relevant again, and North Side hysteria has taken over the MLB fanbase. While every bit of their hype has been deserved—the team is seven games up on the Rangers for best record in baseball—it is leaving Murphy in Kris Bryant’s shadow during MVP discussions.
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Is Bryant a worthy MVP candidate? Of course he is.
The 24-year-old phenom has 36 home runs, leads the Majors in runs scored, and is the only player in the National League with a bWAR of 7.0 or higher. He is having a season for the ages, and his numbers certainly warrant serious consideration. However, it is not his numbers alone that will propel him to the MVP.
Bryant is the best player on the best team in baseball. The fact that he is a Cub means that he has received more national attention and press coverage than most other stars. The Nationals are the second best team in the NL, yet see significant less coverage. Between now and the final day of the regular season, Chicago will be nationally televised on six different occasions. Washington will only be seen nationwide once.
As evidenced by the Cubs’ domination of the All-Star ballot, it is clear that Chicago has taken a stranglehold of the national spotlight. Daniel Murphy deserves serious consideration for an MVP award this season. As October draws closer and closer, the likelihood of that happening has only seemed to dwindle.