Daniel Murphy’s outstanding offensive performance last October, which included going on a home run rampage against the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Jake Arrietta, was quite the accomplishment. So far in 2016, Murphy has proven that the his playoff performance was no fluke. Murphy’s success at the plate appears to be carrying over onto the field as well. His defense has appeared much sharper this season as seen in his ability to turn the double play much more smoothly than in the past.
The New York Mets as well as every other team not named the Nationals are likely kicking themselves since the Nationals were able to secure Murphy’s service at the decent price of $37.5 million for over three years. Murphy’s value has continued to skyrocket as he continues to be a major part of Washington’s success on a regular basis.
Murphy’s transition from a serviceable second baseman into an all star caliber veteran took a change in mental and technical approach at the plate. In the beginning of his major league career back in 2008, Murphy was a natural third baseman who was forced to try his hand in left field due to David Wright’s long term status as the Mets’ third baseman. His defensive woes and injury to Carlos Delgado allowed him to expand his horizons as he filled in at first base and eventually converted into a second baseman.
There is no doubt that Murphy’s bat is what kept him in the big leagues in the first place, but his persistence at doing his best to learn on the fly under the bright lights of New York is what allowed him to thrive in the clubhouse. Murphy’s arrival was during a tough stretch for Mets fans who were just a couple of years away from nearly reaching the world series. The year after year disappointment left fans yearning for the organization to go out and build the Mets into a contending team by virtue of trades or free agent signings. Little did we know, the Mets reaching the world series last year came in large part due to someone within the organization, Daniel Murphy.
Sandy Alderson’s praise for Murphy’s evolution at the plate was directed towards his change in attitude as the usual patient table setter adapted into the aggressive run producer. Murphy’s technical alterations can be seen in how low he crouches down at the plate, which allows him to generate more power in his swing. Murphy’s tendency of starting his swing late as he would lift his front leg as the pitcher was in the middle of his delivery hurt his timing. Now, Murphy uses his toe tap sooner than he was accustomed to, which allows his foot to be planted on the ground and ready to swing prior to the pitcher starting his motion. This allows him to catch up to the fastball. Murphy’s approach at the plate used to center on going the opposite field, however his current approach is more pull friendly, which aids his power to right field.
Murphy is currently hitting .347 with 14 home runs, which happens to be a career high as well as his home run total last season. And to make things worse for the Mets, it seems like they are constantly reminded of his all star performance every time he comes up to bat against them. Murphy is hitting .429 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI in 35 at bats against Mets pitching.
Slated for a career year at the age of 31, it appears that Murphy is just getting started as he continues to etch his name as one of MLB’s best hitters. With the All Star Game looming, Daniel Murphy’s inclusion will be his second time achieving the feat, but this time he and everyone else are not shocked.