Daniel Murphy came out of the gate faster than any Nationals fan dared to dream. Yesterday was a pretty average day for the Murphster as he went 2 for 4 with a double. His batting line is now .422/.500/.733. That is an OPS of 1.233, which is .471 above his career line. He is on fire right now.
Even though his defense is already dragging his overall value down as expected, he has already accumulated 1.0 fWAR, which is about a third of his career high. He has played 13 games. Rizzo points to head.
Yes, he will drop down to earth any day now. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .472, which means that about 50 percent more balls that he puts into play end up as hits than normally do. That's right, Lady Luck is coming through for Murphy right now and he is going to ride that luck until it runs out.
Is Daniel Murphy hotter than Bryce Harper, though?
Bryce Harper is right up there with Murphy, though. He doesn't have the same flashy average or on base percentage. He is actually getting on base less than he did last year, but overall he is on pace to be even more valuable than during that MVP season.
Harper's batting line is currently .333/.429/.867. (2015 was .330/.460/.649)
He has hit five singles, three doubles, and seven home runs. In case anyone was not sure, those numbers are insane.
Bryce Harper is on pace to hit 87 home runs this year. Is this pace sustainable? Of course not. Nobody has done ever done that, after all. The grind of the 162 game baseball brings everyone down to earth, or so we're told.
Do you remember what is going to bring Daniel Murphy back down to earth? Lady Luck has been allowing him to get hits at an extremely high and unsustainable rate of .472 BABIP.
Bryce Harper currently has a BABIP of .235, which is almost 30 percent lower than his career average and almost 40% lower than his 2015 BABIP rate. That is the same rate at which the ball is dropping in for Michael Taylor, who is batting .180.
The ball just isn't dropping in for him, but he's so hot it hasn't mattered. If regression to the mean works the way it's supposed to for Harper, he has not reached his ceiling yet.
Yes, Bryce's power surge is probably going to slow as the season progresses, but things are lining up for him to have a very strong season.
Not only is he performing amazing feats at the plate but he is stealing more bases and his defense appears to have improved from last season.
Perhaps the scariest number for opposing pitchers is the fact that Harper has cut his strikeout rate in half, albeit against less than stellar pitching.
The more he can sustain a low strikeout rate, the more dangerous and productive he will become.
Enjoy the heat!
Daniel Murphy is sizzling hot right now, maybe a hair hotter than Bryce Harper himself. Enjoy every moment, because it won't last.
Bryce Harper is just as hot, and he may cool down in time. He probably won't cool too much, though, and it appears that he has put himself in a good position for beating his own historic MVP season.
Even while Lady Luck isn't on his side, Bryce Harper has figured out how to twist the fates to his own will and be more productive than ever before.
If you like it hot, this is a good time to watch Nationals baseball.