Washington Nationals: 5 x-factors for Daniel Murphy in 2018

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Daniel Murphy #20 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a two-run double against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth innin gin game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Daniel Murphy #20 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a two-run double against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth innin gin game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) /
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Reuniting with Kevin Long

Murphy has been a solid hitter for his entire career, but was by no means a household name for his first seven major league seasons. He always hit for average, even batting .320 in his second full season, but never had much power. Before 2015, he was averaging just eight homers per year.

Then, the Mets signed Kevin Long to be their hitting coach.

Long worked with Murphy to improve his swing, which led to a career-high 14 homers in 2015. The results were evident over the course of the year, but Murphy made vast improvements in the stretch run.

While Murphy produced a solid regular season, it did not even begin to compare to his postseason.

In the first two rounds of the postseason, Murphy crushed seven homers in nine games. The man who was once an above average hitter now appeared elite. He almost singlehandedly carried the Mets to the World Series.

Although Murphy received all of the credit, which is understandable since he is the one in the box, he attributed his transformation to Long.

Now, Long has been hired as the Nats’ hitting coach. Murphy has made it clear that he wanted the Nats to hire Long throughout his two seasons with the Nats, but his hopes have finally become a reality.

Without Long, Murphy has continued to rake. He has hit .334 with 48 homers in two seasons with the Nats, leading them to two consecutive division titles. It’s safe to say that Murphy has done alright without Long.

However, now that Murphy and Long are reunited, Murphy could produce his best season yet. With his newfound swing and favorite hitting coach, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

When Murphy begins the season is up in the air, but, whenever that is, he should produce yet another MVP-caliber campaign.

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