Nationals’ infielder Daniel Murphy went 2-for-5 at the plate, delivering a walk-off RBI-double in Friday’s 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Murphy in the process extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He has recorded a hit in each game thus far this season.
Murphy leads MLB with a .444 batting average and 20 hits. He leads the National League in doubles with six and ranks in the top-10 in MLB in on-base percentage and RBIs. A superb start that suggests that last year’s MVP-caliber season was no fluke.
Murphy was a steal for the Nationals when they signed him to a three-year deal worth $37.5 million in the winter of 2016. The New York Mets inexplicably let him test free agency after his magical 2015 postseason, where he hit seven home runs leading the Mets to the World Series. Thoughts within the organization and around the league were doubts he could duplicate the postseason success.
Murphy responded by showing he was still primed, hitting .347/.390/.595 with 24 home runs, 47 doubles, and driving in 104 runs — all were career-highs for then 31-year old. He led MLB in doubles, slugging, and OPS. He also torched his former team, hitting .413/.444/.773 with seven home runs (most against any opponent) and 21 RBIs (most against any opponent) versus the Mets.
Despite the Nationals falling in the NLDS to the Dodgers in five games, Murphy carried over his regular season success to the postseason once again. He hit .438/.545/.438 with six RBIs.
Murphy entered this season with pundits once again doubting he could continue this hot stretch of his career. The same doubts that watched him walk out the door of the Mets organization to a division rival. He was 32, and analysis on he was overdue a drop-off. However, through 10 games, it appears there is no drop-off.
He bats comfortably behind one the best top of the orders in MLB, even with Trea Turner currently on the disabled list. Teams are forced to pitch to him with Bryce Harper hitting in front of him. Murphy resembles Don Mattingly with his ability to pull the ball. He smothers the plate, leaving little room for error for an opposing pitcher. Any hesitation by the ball or misplacement and seemingly he makes you pay.
For the Nationals they are enjoying the payoff they have received by grabbing arguably the greatest bargain in MLB in generations. Murphy has transformed his game, and is building a Hall of Fame resume in reverse.