Daniel Murphy has been sensational in his first year with the Washington Nationals, fortifying himself in NL MVP talks.
Boy, now more than ever, do fans over in Flushing long to hear “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” blaring throughout Citi Field while Daniel Murphy digs into the box.
Now, playing for a nemesis, Murphy has not only tormented his former team and made brilliant strides as a player, but he has worked his way into consideration for National League MVP.
In fact, there should not be question as to whether he takes home the hardware. Thanks to a season more dumbfounding and valuable than any other throughout the league, the votes should unanimously point in his direction.
When he inked a deal to take his talents to the nation’s capital, the Washington Nationals were in search of his large body of work. Essentially, a high average guy who knocks around 20 homers and drives in anywhere from 75-85 runs. Additionally, a below average second baseman would attempt to field the position every single day.
In a known hitter-friendly ballpark, those were realistic expectations from the get-go.
Let’s just say the 31-year-old has exceeded those expectations. Let’s add that he has eclipsed those numbers with over a month to play.
How about serving as the savior of an offense currently carrying a first-place team? How about leading the chase for the NL batting title?
Yes, Daniel Murphy is accomplishing the unthinkable. Transforming himself from a “nice” ballplayer into one who is truly feared throughout the game.
As per current projections, he would log 151 games this year. At the moment, he boasts a .348 average with 23 homers and 88 RBIs. In theory, at season’s end, he would finish up with 31 homers and 117 RBIs. Throw 198 hits, a .613 slugging percentage, and a 1.003 OPS into the mix.
That is not merely stardom, those are box office numbers.
In a year in which their heart and soul, their ticket seller, and their finest source of production, Bryce Harper, has been pitched around, silenced at times, and generally limited overall, the Nationals have relied on every Murphy hit, home run, run batted in, and clutch at-bat to get where they ultimately are.
Looking around the rest of the National League, there are certainly stars worthy of recognition. However, each of those players can be done without, take a backseat to the former Met in terms of impact, and rely on compiling numbers. Anyone who respects the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award is intelligent enough to realize that it is not a ‘Most Outstanding Player’ award.
An important indication is whether a given player would win both. Daniel Murphy would triumph in the duo of areas — if both awards existed.
Nolan Arenado’s 30 home runs and 98 runs batted in are nothing short of exceptional at this stage, but he is playing for a team that defines mediocrity.
Anthony Rizzo has pieced together an MVP-caliber year, but does his output serve as much value to the Cubbies as Murphy’s does to the Nats? Definitely not, particularly considering the utter domination that has taken place in the NL Central.
How about Rizzo’s teammate, Kris Bryant? This one may be a closer call. With that said, let’s put things into perspective.
If you take away Bryant, the Cubs have a powerful lineup nonetheless. They are a strong first-place team rather than a sensational powerhouse capable of lifting a pennant for the first time since 1945.
Let’s take Murphy out of Washington. Harper is stuck batting .241, or less, given his lack of relevant opportunities to succeed, absolutely no lineup protection is present, and the Nationals are struggling to maintain a divisional lead handed to them by stellar starting pitching.
All three candidates striving to steal the award from the Nats’ second baseman do not qualify in the sense of what the award entails. The do or die mentality and the box office mystique, with numbers — that are expected to turn heads — taking a sidebar.
Much deliberation will take place, and doubt can and should fill the bright minds of the BBWAA.
When it comes down to it, though, a first-place vote not cast in Daniel Murphy’s direction is a vote put to waste. Trying to oppose him will simply leave slim substantiation.
Hey, ask the Mets. Maybe even the Marlins, Braves, or Phillies. They have to face him 19 times.
Every time they try something new, they are left scrambling for sufficient answers as an attempt to tackle the should-be unanimous NL MVP.