World Series requirements for the Washington Nationals, Part III: Daniel Murphy
As I stated in a previous article:
“Daniel Murphy was spectacular in his first season as a Nat. He hit 47 doubles, 25 home runs, had a .347 BA, a .390 OBP, and an NL-leading slugging percentage of .595. He finished second in the NL MVP voting. Since going off in the 2015 post-season with the New York Mets, Murphy has not let up.”
If Bryce Harper returns to his 2015 MVP form, which seems almost likely based on his spring training dominance, the Nationals do not necessarily need Murphy to have another MVP-caliber season. However, they still need him to be pretty damn great. Murphy was key to the Nats regular season success in 2016.
The concern with him comes from his gluteal muscle. The strain he suffered last season that cost him the final two weeks of the regular season, “could be recurring,” as he put it.
“So it’s something, in my old age, I have to be a little more diligent in certain areas.”
It has forced the 31-year-old (turns 32 April 1) to hit less this offseason. It is unclear whether Murphy will be able to produce the numbers he did last season. One thing is for sure, however; he is critical to the team’s success. Losing Wilson Ramos only makes him more valuable to the team.
The World Baseball Classic hasn’t helped matters.
Murphy and Nationals Manager Dusty Baker have expressed concerns that Murphy is not getting enough at-bats and his performance so far in competition is worrisome.
“He didn’t have his stuff together when he left,” Baker said. “And how are you gonna get yourself together if you’re not playing? Batting practice is one thing, but competition is something else. … What can I do about it until Murph gets back? I just hope we can get him enough work.”
He has gone 3 for 17 in spring training and 1 for 11 in WBC play.
Although Baker believes Murphy is healthy, he knows his second baseman is at risk.
“I just hope we can get him enough work without … you don’t even have to overwork him,” Baker said. “His chances of getting hurt are increased.”
If the Nationals are going to win it all this year, they will need a healthy and in-form Daniel Murphy.
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