Friday, July 29, 2011

Daniel Murphy is KILLING the Baseball

Hey everyone.

Can we talk Daniel Murphy for a second? I for one cannot believe that the tear he's been on recently has gotten such little press. I realize that Reyes was having an MVP-caliber season, and that trading Beltran is a huge story -- but almost nobody in baseball has been as good as Daniel Murphy in the last couple of months.

For the year, Murphy is hitting .319/.360/.458. That's pretty good. And stop, for a moment, and consider JUST how good that is. As it is, he's THIRD in the National League batting race. Did you know that? He's sandwiched between Ryan Braun and Joey Votto.

In the year of the pitcher, part deux, his 818 OPS is good for an OPS+ mark of 128, which is phenomenal. To put that in perspective, his 871 OPS in 2008 was only good for an OPS+ of 129 -- essentially equivalent. So even when viewing the season as a whole, he's had a truly awesome season thus far.

But when you take a look at his numbers from the middle of May onward, you will be stunned by how good he's been.

For the last 30 days, Daniel Murphy is hitting .373/.400/.573 for an OPS of 973. NINE-SEVENTY-THREE. Think that's just a hot month? It's not. In the last 60 days, Murphy has hit .358/.383/.491 for an OPS of 873. He hit .349 that month. He's been this hot since two weeks after we found out Osama Bin Laden had been killed. South Sudan wasn't a country yet. We still had a Space Program. Kate Middleton had been married less than a month. He's been doing this day in and day out for a while.

He's been getting better. And it's for such a period of time now that you have to take a step back and really take it seriously. This isn't a good two week stretch -- this is an enormous sample. In his last 240 at bats, Daniel Murphy has hit like Wade Boggs in his prime. Want to know what the full season pace is for that kind of performance?

232 hits, 56 doubles, 93 RBI, 54 strikeouts, .363/.390/.504

Obviously, Daniel Murphy is not Wade Boggs. In addition, Murphy has been aided by somewhat fortuitous luck on balls in play, with a BABIP of .384. But at this point I think it's appropriate to step back and actually ask: How good is Daniel Murphy?

Even if you were to shave off a generous amount of luck from his batting line -- say his BABIP is around .330 rather than .380 -- he'd still be hitting .313/.340/.454 over this period of time.

Oh -- and one more thing that I almost forgot to mention. His last 14 games? They have been his best. Not only has he posted an OPS of 1039 in those games while hitting .390, but in those last 59 at bats, Murphy has been pretty hard to strike out. Want to guess how many strikeouts he's had in those last 59 at bats?

a) 10 strikeouts
b) 8 strikeouts
c) 6 strikeouts

Ready for the answer? The correct answer is ONE strikeout. Daniel Murphy in the last two weeks has ten doubles and one strikeout.

The point of this exercise is not to say that I think Daniel Murphy is going to hit .400 for the rest of his career. I don't think that tomorrow he is going to hit 40 home runs or win a gold glove at second base. But I think it is long past due for the fans to acknowledge his incredible run of success -- and to contemplate what it might mean for the future.