We’re finally into baseball’s third month and Daniel Murphy is dangerously close to .400. With another multi-hit game on Tuesday against the Phillies, the Nationals’ second baseman sits with a MLB-best .397 average. As Craig noted in this morning’s ATH, we’re probably going to see a lot of “Can Murphy hit .400?” articles.
We have had .400 threats much deeper into the season. Tony Gwynn, for example, was hitting .394 on August 11, 1994 before play was suspended due to the strike. Gwynn also ended June 1987 hitting .381. Todd Helton was hitting .420 at this time in 2000. George Brett ended his September 4, 1980 game against the Brewers with a .401 average. All of them failed to finish the season there.
Just because Murphy won’t hit .400 doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what he’s done. Along with his major league-best batting average, Murphy leads the National League with a .634 slugging percentage and a 1.062 OPS, and his total of 77 hits is best in the game. Going by wRC+, an offensive Sabermetric stat at FanGraphs, only David Ortiz has been more productive at the plate than Murphy. It didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.
Once Yoenis Cespedes arrived in Queens last year from the Tigers, Murphy seemed to take off. From his return to the disabled list through July 31, Murphy had a tepid .245/.297/.353 line. From August 1 through the end of the season, Murphy hit .296/.321/.533 with eight of the 14 home runs he would hit on the year. And, of course, there was his historic postseason during which he homered in six consecutive games, helping the Mets escape the NLDS against the Dodgers, then skate into the World Series after beating the Cubs in the NLCS.
Murphy will look to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and push his batting average up over .400 on Wednesday night against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, starting at 7:05 PM EDT. The Nats’ Max Scherzer will oppose the Phils’ Adam Morgan.
The rest of Wednesday’s action…
Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer) @ Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker), 7:05 PM EDT
San Francisco Giants (Albert Suarez) @ Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez), 7:10 PM EDT
Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich), 10:10 PM EDT