It’s almost funny how little it seems people talk about Daniel Murphy these days.
Ryan Zimmerman caught the attention of the league with his fast start and has been the face of a great comeback story. The media’s finally starting to look Anthony Rendon’s way, even if it is only to say how criminally underrated he is. Meanwhile, my sources confirm that Bryce Harper is still indeed Bryce Harper.
Unless the Mets are sitting in the opposite dugout, Murphy isn’t typically making very many headlines. Yet the team leader in at-bats continues to hit like one of the best players in the majors.
“It’s really, really difficult to hit a ball at 95 mph, but if you can get it off the barrel at 100 [mph] I can speak from personal experience, it’s really hard to catch, so that’s kind of the goal I think is to try to knuckle it, and hit it as hard as you can,” Daniel Murphy told reporters back in February.
Murphy’s numbers this season are far from pedestrian (.324 BA, 20 HRs, 81 RBIs), but not at the astronomical level of yesteryear that earned him a top-two finish in the NL MVP voting. What’s truly been special, however, is how consistent he’s been over the past two seasons.
Since he joined the Nats in the 2015-16 offseason, Murphy has never finished a month with an OPS below .830. Just for reference, Murphy ended a full season with the Mets sporting an OPS above .830 a grand total of zero times.
Murphy has gone four straight games without a hit just once in his Nationals career, and his batting average has yet to drop below .308 this season. Just for reference, the Mets don’t have a single qualified hitter with a batting average above .308.
While he’s had to hit fifth with how deep the Nats’ offense is, he’s managed to hit .310 with 48 RBIs out of that spot in the order. Just for reference, Mets’ No. 5 hitters have combined for a .238 batting average and 67 RBIs in twice as many games this season.
Now, Murphy has had to sit out a few games with nagging injuries here and there throughout this season, but the Nats’ division lead has given Dusty Baker the flexibility to give Murphy enough rest to keep him on the field when they need him.
“I’ve got to be, in my older age, a little bit more diligent in certain areas of the game, whereas hopefully, been able to put some work in some other areas, so I’m trying to take care of the body now, not that I’m an old man, I’ve just got to be a little more aware of that,” Murphy told reporters over the offseason.
Despite that extra rest, Murphy still outpaces everyone but Rendon and Zimmerman in games played — and he’s doing it without taking his foot off the gas. Harper is on the disabled list, while Rendon got off to a slow start and Zimmerman has cooled off significantly since May.
Murphy, however, has just kept on hitting.