WASHINGTON — Since his arrival in Washington, Daniel Murphy has been the best-hitting second baseman in the National League, twice taking home the Silver Slugger award in two seasons.
This year, he finished the season with an offensive stat line of .322/.384/.543, all numbers down from his MVP runner-up season in 2016. That gives him a combined offensive stat line of .334/.387/.569 here in Washington.
Now, with the opportunity to reunite with Kevin Long, the hitting coach that unlocked the full potential of his power swing in New York, Murphy could theoretically get even better in 2018.
In reality, the two had a very short time together in the Mets organization, which ended with a historic offensive performance throughout the playoffs. Murphy became a full-time Met in 2009, but Long wasn’t hired until 2015.
As the story goes, Murphy approached Long about improving his swing before the 2015 season. Long used the discussion to convince Murphy, who had always hit well for contact, to become more aggressive at the plate. Instead of trading power for average, Murphy improved both.
“He changed his mechanics,” Long said of Murphy in 2015. “This isn’t like all of a sudden he tried to do something he hasn’t done all year. Basically, he went from a guy seeking base hits to a guy seeking to do damage — and there’s a big difference.”
Now that the two are reunited, it remains to be seen whether Long’s genius has a cumulative effect, or if Murphy’s secrets are already revealed. Either way, the Nats would love to see another contract year performance out of Murphy in 2018.
“[Long] really helped me to play as much as I could to one of my biggest strengths, I think, which is I don’t swing and miss a lot,” Murphy said of Long in 2015. “So, if I can get a good pitch to hit, there is a good chance I should be able to hit it hard.”
And that should be music to the Nats ears.