The Washington Nationals took three of four from the New York Mets over the weekend, in large part thanks to the hot bat of none other than former Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Remember Daniel Murphy? Mets’ fans surely do. He homered in six consecutive playoff games during last year’s post-season to send the Mets, improbably, all the way to the World Series. And then, against the Royals, Murphy’s bat went ice cold, and he instead recorded two costly errors en route to a Kansas City championship.
During the ensuing off-season, the Mets then opted to not re-sign the 31-year-old Murphy. Part of their reasoning had to do with Murphy’s circumspect defence, but more than anything else it was simple law of averages: Murphy’s hot streak couldn’t possibly continue. Regression to the mean would have Murphy’s batting average becoming decidedly average, and they could get an average hitter for less money than Murphy wanted. The Nationals, meanwhile, offered him a three-year, $37.5 million deal, and that was that.
Fast forward to the mid-way point of the season, though, and that regression simply hasn’t happened: Murphy leads the NL with a blistering .349 batting average and he’s terrorised his old ball club.
Against the Mets so far this season, Murphy is batting .423. He has recorded a hit in all 13 games, hit 7 home runs, and tallied 21 RBIs. Not since Ryan Howard in 2006 has a player hit more RBIs in a single season against the Mets — and it’s only the All-Star Break! The Nationals play the Mets six more times!
On Sunday, Murphy hit a two-run shot off Steven Matz in the first inning — his third homer of the series and fourth in five games against the Mets.
“I just don’t think he really cares. I don’t think he really comes in here and says, ‘Oh, I’m playing the Mets,'” Bryce Harper said afterwards. “I’m so happy he’s on our side now and doing what he’s doing this year. If he can take it into the second half, we got ourselves another MVP.”
“If there’s living proof of a hitting machine, he’s definitely it. He’s definitely a cyborg right now,” Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez added.
Murphy, meanwhile, offered little by way of explanation:
“I didn’t think I’d be doing what I was doing at the start of the season, so I would say I’m surprised,” Murphy said, “but I’m very humbled and excited about it.”
That’s not exactly going to make Mets fans feel any better.
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