Lane Thomas. Daniel Murphy. While one is a retired veteran and the other has yet to stick, they have found themselves off to similar starts with the Nats.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Mike Rizzo absolutely fleeced the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline. In an ill-advised move to bolster their starting rotation, St. Louis shipped out a then-struggling 25-year-old outfielder named Lane Thomas for Jon Lester and his 5.02 ERA.
At the time of the trade, Thomas was 5-48 with the Cardinals and had been pushed from the starting lineup, but Washington pounced at the opportunity to receive anything for the Lester. The change of scenery paid dividends and Thomas immediately put his former team on notice. In his Nats debut, he went 2-4 with a walk. Since then, the righty has done nothing but hit and quickly supplanted the struggling Victor Robles as the team’s starting centerfielder.
Thomas has started to follow in the footsteps of Randy Arozarena and Adolis Garcia as former Cardinals to flourish with their new clubs. In 15 games with the Nats, he is 16-51, with a homer, seven RBIs, and an OPS just south of .900. During today’s loss to the Phillies, NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich pointed out something interesting regarding Thomas’s blazing start to his Nats tenure.
After Thomas’s homer in the third inning, he became the first Nat since Daniel Murphy in 2016 to record a single, double, triple, home run, and a stolen base in his first 15 games with the club.
Murphy followed up his hot start to the 2016 season by posting the best year of his career, hitting .347, with 25 homers, 104 RBIs, and an OPS of .985. That year he helped the Nationals return to the playoffs by winning the NL East. He also finished second in NL MVP voting. Over his two and a half seasons in D.C., Murphy was instrumental in his team’s success, hitting .329, with 54 homers, 226 RBIs, and an OPS of .930.
By no means are we calling Thomas the next Daniel Murphy, but it is a pleasant sight to see the outfielder off to such a scorching start. Here’s hoping he can keep it up!