Tag Archives: Daniel Murphy

2016 National League MVP Candidates

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Daniel Murphy-Second Baseman-Washington Nationals

Last October saw second baseman Daniel Murphy become a household name when he set a Major League Baseball record as he hit a home run in six consecutive playoff games to help the New York Mets win the National League Pennant. Murphy left the Mets in free agency to join the Washington Nationals and the hitting prowess that he displayed last October hasn’t dissipated.

Daniel Murphy

For the first two months of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, Murphy flirted with hitting .400, but he is still leading the National League in batting at .348 while his 17 home runs are a career-high. Murphy is a big reason why the Nationals are in first place in the N.L. East and on pace to win the division for the third time since 2012.

Jeurys Familia-Relief Pitcher-New York Mets

Jeurys Familia

In the 75 years of the National League MVP Award, a relief pitcher has never won it. And as for both leagues, only Dennis Eckersley in 1992 was named the MVP as he did it in the American League. But even though that New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia is fighting an uphill battle, his accomplishments so far in 2016 need to be recognized. Familia is a perfect 31-for-31 in saves opportunities this year and he is a big reason why the Mets have been able to hang around in playoff contention. Familia has also struck out 41 batters while only allowing 12 runs, and if he is able to reach magical number of 50 in the saves category, he should receive some serious consideration as far as being the N.L. MVP.

Kris Bryant-Third Baseman-Chicago Cubs

Kris Bryant

When the Chicago Cubs were struggling in 2014, the folks knew that help was potentially on the way in the form of third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant was the second overall pick of the 2013 Major League Draft by the Cubs and he has lived up to the hype and then some. After winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award last year, Bryant has avoided the sophomore slump as he is batting .286 with 25 home runs and 65 runs batted in. Bryant is a big reason why the Cubs are in first place in the National League Central and the folks in the Windy City are thinking about the World Series for the first time in a long time.

Anthony Rizzo-First Baseman-Chicago Cubs

Anthony Rizzo

As there were some very lean years for the Chicago Cubs in the early 2010’s, there was one bright spot for the team which was first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo was showing his potential on bad Cubs teams which included belting 32 homers in 2014 as he finished tenth in the National League MVP voting. Currently Rizzo is on pace for his best season as he has 21 homers and 63 runs batted in to go along with a .299 batting average here at the All-Star break. And just like Bryant, Rizzo is a big reason why the Cubs are in first place in the N.L. Central.

Nolan Arenado-Third Baseman-Colorado Rockies

Nolan Arenado

The Colorado Rockies might be 16 games out of first place in the National League West, but that doesn’t mean that the year in which their starting third baseman Nolan Arenado is having should go unrecognized. Arenado was the second overall pick of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft by the Rockies and he is coming into his own as one of the best all-around players in the game. Last year Arenado led the National League in home runs (42) and runs batted in (130), while he also won his third Gold Glove Award.

This year Arenado is batting .287 with 23 homers and his 70 runs batted in lead the National League. Arenado will be fighting an uphill to named as the N.L. MVP as the Rockies will more than likely not make the playoffs, but Arenado simply continues to chug right along.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

   

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Murph’s Magic

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The Major League Baseball journey of Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy has been a very interesting one. Murphy was selected by the New York Mets in the 13th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. Murphy came to the Mets as a man without a position, but he quickly found himself playing second base. In 49 games for the Mets in 2008, Murphy batted .313 with an on-base percentage of .397. Injuries saw Murphy become a regular in the Mets lineup in 2009 which included a short, painful venture playing left field, but he never complained. A knee injury put Murphy on the shelf for the entire 2010 MLB season, while a collision at second base in the following year ended his campaign after 109 games. Murphy would return to the Mets in 2012 and he became “Steady Eddie” in their lineup as you knew that he would be a player that would typically hit .290 without that much power as he was simply a contact hitter. Murphy made his only MLB All-Star Game appearance in 2014 as he continued to be a solid player, but not a superstar.

Murphy entered 2015 seeking an extension from the Mets which he never received as the organization wasn’t willing to commit big money to a player who was merely a contact hitter, while also being a defensive liability. But last year for the Mets, Murphy would have his best season as he batted .281 to go along with a career-high in home runs with 14, and 73 runs batted in. However Murphy saved his best moment for October when he got hit first crack at postseason baseball.

When the Mets needed someone to take the bull by the horns in the National League Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was Murphy that answered the bell. Murphy scored the first run of the series by hitting a solo home run off of Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. Murphy would homer off of Kershaw once more in Game 4. And in a decisive Game 5, Murphy put the Mets on his back. In the first inning Murphy drove in the first run of the game on an RBI triple before scoring the tying run later in the game for the Mets after his instinctive base running when the Dodgers forget to cover third base due to an infield shift. Later on Murphy would hit the series-clinching home run which propelled the Mets to their first trip to the NLCS since 2006. For the series against the Dodgers, Murphy batted .333 with 3 home runs and 5 runs batted in.

Murphy’s hot streak would continue in the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs as he hit a home run in each game of the series. In the process Murphy became the first player in postseason history to hit a home run in six consecutive games. And as the Mets swept the Cubs to earn their first NL Pennant since 2000, Murphy was selected as the MVP of the NLCS. For the series against the Cubs, Murphy batted .529 with 4 home runs and 6 runs batted in, and for his sake he became a household name at the right time as he was preparing to become a free agent.

Murphy would struggle at the plate in the World Series as the Mets lost to the Kansas City Royals, and he had key error in Game 4 which hurt New York’s chances as you wondered if that would hinder his chances as a free agent.

Murphy was seeking a long-term deal that never came down the pike. And once the Mets acquired second baseman Neil Walker from the Pittsburgh Pirates over the winter, it all but signaled the end of Murphy’s time in New York.

This past January, Murphy and the Washington Nationals would come to an agreement on a three-year contract that is worth $37.5 million which is much smaller than what he was seeking on the open market. But Murphy has always been a hard worker which the Nationals immediately found out. Murphy was brought in to provide protection in the Nationals lineup for outfielder Bryce Harper who is the reigning National League MVP which is exactly what the second baseman is doing.

Through the first two months of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, Murphy is batting .394 which by far the best in baseball to go along with 9 home runs, 34 runs batted in, and a slugging percentage of .636. Murphy’s production is a big reason why the Nats have bounced back from a disappointing 2015, and they are now in first place in the National League East with a three-game lead over his former club in the Mets.

But aside from what Murphy has done at the plate, he is a leader which is something that the Nationals needed. As previously mentioned, Murphy is a hard worker, and even though that he isn’t and won’t ever be categorized as being a fielder that is worthy of winning the Gold Glove, he leaves it all out on the baseball diamond each day. Murphy’s intangibles are not the reason why the Mets allowed him to walk in free agency as it was his defensive miscues as he has already committed 5 errors this year which included one that proved to be the difference in a loss to the Mets last month. However Murphy is a blue-collar guy which is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Nationals. And for a guy that has been a streaky hitter for his entire Major League Baseball career, he now finds himself on the hottest streak of his life.

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A Big Off-season Ahead For Sandy

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For the New York Mets, the sting is still there from falling three games short of winning the World Series, and they can take tremendous solace in knowing that they were able to make huge strides this year. But the last thing that the Mets want to do in 2016 is to take steps backwards. After winning 79 games in 2014, and failing to record a winning season since 2008, things began to come together for the Mets in 2015 as they won 90 games in the regular season for their first National League East Title since 2006. The Mets would get past the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs in the playoffs en route to winning the NL Pennant, but the Kansas City Royals proved to be too much for them in the World Series.

Sandy Alderson

Since taking over as Mets general manager in 2010, Sandy Alderson has gone about reshaping the team for the previously financially strapped team owner Fred Wilpon. The past few years have seen the Mets have one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball while attempting to develop their young talent which came to fruition in 2015. The Mets rode their blend of youth and veterans this year to a run that ended on the first day of November. And after captivating their fan base with their magical run, the last thing that the Mets can do is go back to being a mediocre franchise which means that Alderson has some work ahead of him going into the winter.

Already the Mets have roughly $60 million committed to their payroll for next season. That number will definitely increase with several key players led by starting pitcher Matt Harvey up for arbitration over the winter. But the Mets will be faced with several key roster decisions to make as well.

Daniel Murphy

The Mets failed to reach an agreement with second baseman Daniel Murphy last off-season and if they want to retain his services now, it will cost them dearly. During the regular season Murphy batted .281 with a career-high in home runs (14), to go along with 73 runs batted in. But in the postseason, Murphy became a household name as he batted .328 with 7 home runs and 11 runs batted in including setting a postseason record by hitting a home run in six consecutive games. And because of Murphy’s postseason run, along with his leadership and the affection that the fans in New York City have for him, the Mets cannot afford to have him leave town this winter as a free agent. You can expect the Mets to give Murphy a qualifying offer, but they need to make every effort possible to keep him in Queens.

Yoenis Cespedes

This year the Mets became the first team in Major League Baseball history to be last in runs scored prior to July 31, and still qualify for the playoffs. July 31 is an important date on the MLB calendar as it marks the non-waiver trade deadline, and for the Mets they made a splash on that day this year when they acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers. In just 57 games with the Mets, Cespedes batted .287 with 17 home runs and 44 runs batted in. Cespedes’ time with the Mets saw him provide the team with something that they’ve lacked for some time which is a proven cleanup hitter. Cespedes was unable to have the same success in the postseason as a shoulder injury limited him at the plate, but he didn’t endear himself to the Mets and their fans either with his lackluster defense during the World Series which played a part in New York’s series loss to the Royals. Cespedes is 30-years of age and he is expected to command a hefty salary this winter and it will be interesting to see how far the Mets are willing to go to in order to keep him. Throughout Alderson’s time as a general manager, he hasn’t been a fan of giving players 30-years of age or older long-term deals and whomever were to give Cespedes a big contract would more than likely be in the “win now” mode while they would be willing to eat dead money at the end of the deal. And I’m not sure if the Mets and Alderson would be willing to push that envelope.

Michael Conforto

If the Mets allow Cespedes to walk, they could be willing to give outfielder Michael Conforto a chance to be their everyday left fielder. Conforto was the Mets first-round selection in 2014 and he made his Major League Baseball debut this past July. In 56 games with the Mets, Conforto batted .270 with 9 home runs and 26 runs batted in and at the age of 22, New York likes his potential. But it would just be interesting to see if the Mets would be willing to make him an everyday starter being that they have a team that is now a contender.

Spinal stenosis limited Mets third baseman David Wright to just 38 games in 2015, but he was able to play in every postseason game this year. Wright is 32-years of age and his bothersome back is not going to get that much better which is something that the Mets need to keep a keen eye on. Wright is in a position where he is constantly rehabbing in order to get ready to play everyday and heading into 2016, the Mets must work on their infield depth as he will need his fair share of games off; especially when day games follow a night affair.

The Mets are still also facing a conundrum at shortstop with Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores. Tejada has a solid glove but he is not a good hitter, while Flores is a solid hitter, but his defense is shaky. If you put Tejada and Flores together, you get a good shortstop, but the problem is that only one player can be on the field at a time.

Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom

The Mets appear to have their starting rotation going forward with Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler, but you can never have enough pitching. Syndergaard and Matz have yet to pitch a full season in Major League Baseball while Wheeler is on his way back from having Tommy John surgery. Wheeler is expected to miss the beginning of 2016 which means that it wouldn’t hurt the Mets to ponder re-signing starting pitcher Bartolo Colon. Colon went 14-13 for the Mets last season with an earned run average of 4.16 and at the age of 42, he has a rubber arm. The Mets used Colon out of the bullpen during their postseason run and he is a guy that was valuable, but there will be a market for him. Along with Colon, the Mets have another veteran starting pitcher in Jon Niese. In eight years with the Mets, Niese is 61-61 with an earned run average of 3.91. Like Colon, the Mets used Niese solely out of the bullpen during the postseason, but he is a player that could go back to being a starter. Conventional wisdom would say that the Mets could trade Niese this winter in exchange for a bat or prospects, but he still has value for them due to the fact that the team still needs to have some insurance behind their young pitchers.

Going forward the Mets feel that they have their closer in Jeurys Familia. Familia saved 43 runs for the Mets during the regular season after being thrust into the role at the last minute and he was unhittable against the Dodgers and Cubs in the playoffs until the Royals lit him up to the tune of a pair of blown saves in the World Series. The main thing that the Mets need in their bullpen for 2016 is a bridge between their starters and Familia. During the season the Mets acquired relief pitcher Tyler Clippard from the Oakland Athletics and Addison Reed from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mets manager Terry Collins would regularly give Reed the seventh inning, and Clippard the eighth in order to hand to ball to Familia in the ninth. In 17 appearances with the Mets, Reed had a 1.17 earned run average and being that he is not set to be an unrestricted free agent, I see him sticking around in New York as potentially being the eighth inning setup man for Familia. Clippard on the other hand is set to become a free agent and being that he’ll more than likely once again look to be a closer, he won’t be returning to Queens in 2016.

Terry Collins

The Mets gave Collins a two-year extension last week as they feel that he has what it takes to get this club to a championship. Collins has been the Mets manager since 2011, and he has had a history of making some questionable moves. But in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Collins was able to hit all of the right buttons until he rolled snake eyes against the Royals.

The Mets have a team that is set to contend for the next few years, but the time is right now for them to win due to the fact that you can’t take anything for granted as far as simply getting back to the World Series. The Washington Nationals have a new manager in Dusty Baker who is looking to restore order in D.C. as most of the Mets success in 2015 in the National League East came at their expense. The St. Louis Cardinals are always in contention in the NL and we’re heading into an even numbered year which means that it will be about time for the San Francisco Giants to make another World Series run. Like the Mets, the Cubs are a young and upcoming team that is a contender while the Dodgers could attempt to keep themselves in contention by opening up the vault. The Mets have proven that they can contend with the best that the NL has to offer, but it won’t be easy for them as far as defending their position as NL Champions which puts the onus on Alderson this winter to keep his squad at the top of the Senior Circuit.

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What To Expect In The 2015 World Series

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The New York Mets and Kansas City Royals are four victories away from Major League Baseball’s holy grail.

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What To Expect In The 2015 NLCS

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If Joe Maddon can get the Chicago Cubs, he will never have to buy around drink in the Windy City.

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