The man who made Daniel Murphy into the MVP candidate he’s become is now a member of the Washington Nationals. Kevin Long, formerly the hitting coach of the New York Mets, has joined the Nats in the same capacity.
Long interviewed to take over as manager before Dave Martinez was eventually hired for the job. He also sat down with the Mets in hopes of replacing Terry Collins, but Mickey Callaway edged him out.
According to the New York Daily News, Long apparently showed up to his interview with the Mets’ front office equipped “with two binders full of ideas he has picked up from his years as a major league hitting coach.”
It appears that Long was miffed by the decision not to promote him to manager, opting not to return to the Mets when his contract expired despite being offered his same position.
The Nats then stole away Long from their most heated rival and made him the first addition to Martinez’s staff. He will be reunited with Murphy and tasked with leading a Washington offense that scored fifth-most runs in baseball last season.
Long has an established track record off success with New York. He elevated Yoenis Cespedes’ game, evidenced by the Cuban star’s .900 OPS with the Mets compared to his .790 mark with all other teams.
New York as a whole also improved offensively during Long’s tenure. Hired in 2015, the Mets were coming off a season in which they finished 22nd among MLB teams in runs scored, 26th in team OPS and 20th in home runs. Over the last three years, New York is 20th, 17th and 7th in those categories, respectively.
The most dramatic of those changes is New York’s home run rate, which jumped to the best in the National League during that three-year span. He now joins a team that had 10 different players hit double-digit home runs last season. That mark was tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks and — yep, you guessed it — the Mets for the second most in baseball.
Long joining Washington does mean that Rick Schu — who has been with the team since 2013 — is now on the market. Schu worked with general manager Mike Rizzo during his time in Arizona, but the long-lasting relationship has come to an end in favor of Long and his league-wide recognition as one of the best hitting coaches in the sport.
It isn’t yet clear whether the Nats will be holding on to first base coach Davey Lopes, but his baserunning expertise coupled with Long’s ability to bring the best out of power hitters could create a dangerous combination.
This was a great move for Washington. While the team has a reputation of being cheap with managers, the Nats likely had to dig into their pockets in order to reign him in. Martinez’s staff is slowly coming together and will be tasked with the expectations of a deep playoff run. With Long overseeing the offense, the Nats are certainly on their way.