Daniel Murphy finished the 2016 campaign, his first with Washington after signing a 3-year/$37.5M free agent deal with the Nationals in January of 2016, 31 for 75 (.413/.444/.773) with six doubles and seven home runs in 19 games against the New York Mets, who drafted the now-32-year-old infielder in the 13th Round of the 2006 Draft and developed him over seven major league seasons.
Murphy left via free agency after declining a qualifying offer from New York.
Both Mets’ skipper Terry Collins and Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker addressed his success against his former team last July, in the midst of Murphy’s first season in D.C.
"Well, we've seen it, and as you know he's pumped up to play against us and show us we made a mistake," Collins told reporters.
"It's human nature and it's part of the game, and we've just got to make better pitches. We're giving him balls to hit.
"You look at all of the tape at the end of the game, and boy they're good pitches to hit and we've got to do a better job."
"He has a lot of friends over there and former teammates, and probably still friends," Dusty Baker told reporters, as quoted by MASN's Mark Zuckerman.
"Anybody that’s been traded, or played on a roster and their team didn’t sign them, or whatever it was, it definitely means more when you’re playing your old team."
Murphy, who played like he had something to prove, finished the 2016 campaign with a .347/.390/.595 line, 47 doubles, 25 HRs and 156 wRC+ in 142 games and 582 plate appearances, over which he was worth 5.5 fWAR.
He came in second in voting for the National League’s MVP.
His preparation for the 2017 season was limited some by his participation in the World Baseball Classic, with Murphy sitting through the majority of the tournament.
He started the regular season strong, however, going 20 for 45 (.444/.457/.711) with six doubles and two home runs in his first ten games.
Something of a mini-slump followed, with Murphy 1 for 20 in a five-game stretch and 0 for 14 over the previous three-plus leading into Saturday’s game against the Mets.
Baker told reporters before the second of three with the Nationals’ NL East rivals in Citi Field that he wasn’t at all concerned about the rough stretch.
“Murphy spoiled you guys,” Baker said. “Nobody hits forever. That’s how I look at it. And if he says nothing is wrong, then there is nothing wrong.
“So, like I said, he’s spoiled us all. Sometimes you don’t hit.”
Murphy proceeded to single in each of his first two at bats on Saturday, going 2 for 5 on the day, leaving him 23 for 70 (.329/.365/.514) with seven doubles and two home runs after 16 games in his second season with the Nationals.
The Nationals won their second in a row over the Mets and their sixth straight overall on Saturday, setting them up for a chance to sweep their divisional rivals in this afternoon’s series finale.
“Murphy broke his 0 for 14 mini-skid,” Baker said. “We’ve just got to complete the job tomorrow because you know how tough the Mets are here in their ballpark.”
Murphy went 14 for 39 (.359/.395/.744) with three doubles and four home runs as a visitor in Citi Field last season.
He’s 2 for 9 in New York so far this season heading into tonight’s finale.