3:25 PM ET
Daniel Murphy must be the greatest hitter of all time, because I just watched him knock out 52 consecutive base hits.
OK, maybe the second baseman for the Washington Nationals isn’t the best hitter ever, but he is hitting .409 on May 13 and that’s pretty cool. In fact, while Bryce Harper has been the center of attention all season, Murphy has been the best player on the team, leading Harper in WAR, 2.0 to 1.5.
Murphy’s .409 average through May 12 is second best through that date since 2010:
2015: Dee Gordon, .412
2014: Troy Tulowitzki, .395
2013: Miguel Cabrera, .379
2012: Josh Hamilton and David Wright, .402
2011: Matt Holliday, .390
2010: Andre Ethier, .385
Here’s his heat map:
Daniel Murphy heat map. A lot of his hits are coming on meaty pitches down the middle: pic.twitter.com/1F2fTtiIFU
— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) May 13, 2016
That doesn’t tell us how he’s hitting .409. We know about the change in his stance, going from a more straight-up stance to a crouch last season with the Mets, and how that helped him deliver more power as he started pulling the ball more often. Murphy has always been a solid contact guy, but hit just .281 last season even though he cut his strikeout rate from 13.4 percent to 7.1 percent. His BABIP was just .289, well below his .314 career mark, so that suggested a higher average was likely for 2016. Although I don’t think anyone expected .409.
His BABIP in 2016 is .439, so that suggests some luck, but I wanted to see how much luck, so I watched the video of all 52 of his hits (well, 48 of his hits, since our system was missing a few). Here they are:
1. April 4: Home run on 2-0 fastball from Julio Teheran.
Drilled to straightaway center, 422 feet.
2. April 4: Double on 3-1 fastball from Eric O’Flaherty.
High fastball, soft liner just inside the left-field line.
3. April 7: Triple on 1-2 slider from Adam Conley.
Flat slider on the outside corner, lined off the right-field wall.
4. April 7: Single on 1-2 fastball from Craig Breslow.
Low and in, kind of an awkward inside-out swing as he got jammed, but a soft blooper to center.
5. April 10: Single on 2-0 fastball from Tom Koehler.
Video unavailable, but the hit is described as a sharp line drive to center field.
6. April 10: Single on 0-0 curveball from Koehler.
Video unavailable, but it looks like an infield hit on a sharp liner that deflected off the glove of first baseman Justin Bour to Dee Gordon.
7. April 11: Home run on 0-1 fastball from Bud Norris.
High fastball drilled to right-center, a couple of rows into the seats.
8. April 11: Single on 0-1 fastball from Norris.
Hard grounder in the hole between first and second, no shift on.
9. April 12: Single on 1-1 fastball from Jhoulys Chacin.
Medium-hard grounder on high fastball, past a diving Gordon Beckham. No shift on with the bases empty.
10. April 12: Single on 1-2 curveball from Hunter Cervenka.
Murphy chases a low curve well off the plate and hits a half-swing slow grounder just to the right of second and beats the throw to first.
11. April 13: Single on 0-0 fastball from Matt Wisler.
Belt-high fastball, medium-hard grounder sneaks past the diving second baseman.
12. April 14: Double on 2-1 fastball from Julio Teheran.
Jammed on inside fastball, but Murphy hits a soft line drive to right, beats the throw for a double.
13. April 15: Double on 2-1 fastball from Brett Oberholtzer.
Belt-high fastball ripped off the base of the wall in the right-field …
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