Daniel Murphy went 1 for 4 with a home run and a walk in last night’s extra-innings win over the Cincinnati Reds, leaving him with a .344/.399/.581 line, 21 doubles, 13 HRs, 23 walks and 30 Ks in 67 games and 296 plate appearances on the season.
Murphy hit a 1-1 fastball from Reds’ reliever Michael Lorenzen out to right field in the sixth.
Murphy’s 13 home runs are one short of his season-high from his time with the Mets when he hit 14 in 538 PAs in 2015. He hit 13 in 697 PAs in 2013, and 12 in 556 back in 2009.
Last season, of course, he set a career-high with 25 in 531 PAs, and he’s on his way to matching that mark.
Dusty Baker was asked after the Nationals’ come-from-behind, 6-5 win over the Reds if he’s ever seen anyone turn things up and improve the way Murphy has in the last two and a half years.
“I’ve seen guys improve like that because they learn how to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Baker said.
“I saw guys that I played with who were opposite field hitters when they came up and mainly Daryl Evans and Reggie Smith.
“He was the best on our team. Like I said, [Murphy] has learned to sit on pitches. He learns to look in zones. That’s how you hit home runs. You don’t hit home runs just swinging at whatever they throw up there.
“You got to have a pretty good idea what the pitcher is doing to you and then to execute and then not over-swing when you do get your pitch, because you see a lot of guys when they do get their pitch, they over-swing and foul it off, or either they pull it foul.
“Murph, he works. He works on it. He talks it, he lives it, he’s always talking hitting, so now is the time when guys usually get their selves together and they learn who they are and they learn at this age what they can do and what they can’t do.”
He also seems to love what he’s doing on a daily basis, and Murphy, a reporter noted, plays like a kid even as a 32-year-old major leaguer.
Baker said that’s how you have to approach the game.
“You play it like a little kid, because you were once a little kid playing a game, now you’re just a man making a lot of money, but the game is still the same game.
“It’s the same game whether you’re at the park, or whether you’re in the backyard or here in this stadium. It’s the same game and you have to enjoy and love what you’re doing in order to maximize your career and in order to see things that you probably would have never seen before had you not fallen in love with what you’re doing.”
Murphy and his teammates are back at it again this afternoon.