When Kevin Long got fired by the New York Yankees after the 2014 season, it didn’t take long for the Mets to scoop him up. Curtis Granderson was one of Long’s staunchest supporters from their Yankees days, and Grandy helped Long in gaining the confidence of some of the Mets’ players in the 2015 season like Daniel Murphy who just didn’t have the power swing he wanted.
Some players don’t want to trust the guy who just got fired but Murphy put his faith in Long who made some impactful tweaks.
“There’s times where there’s got to be somebody to fall,” Kevin Long lamented about getting fired by the Yankees. “Somebody takes the blame.”
Murphy and Long deconstructed his swing and then put it back together with a few changes where Long asked Murphy to hold his hands lower, and that was thought to be the biggest change along with the slight crouch where he got his legs more involved in the power of the swing, and positioning himself a little closer to the plate.
“He changed his mechanics,” Kevin Long said of Murphy tweaking his approach throughout the season, using his legs more and dropping his hands. “This isn’t like all of a sudden he tried to do something he hasn’t done all year. … Basically, he went from a guy seeking base hits to a guy seeking to do damage — and there’s a big difference.”
The new mechanics took time to work and that led to the full Murphy on display during the NLDS and the NLCS and Murph made the cover of Sports Illustrated as he broke the post-season consecutive game HR mark and thrust the Mets into the World Series. Kevin Long was proud of his pupil.
This week, Kevin Long got to see his former student Daniel Murphy in a different uniform and Murphy was solid all series against the Mets while putting the exclamation point on the series in the 1st inning on Thursday against Matt Harvey as Murphy took a pitch over the 408′ wall in centerfield for a 2 run home run.
“I think the playoffs helped elevate [Daniel Murphy] to another level,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “His confidence is at an all-time high. He has an idea and he has a plan [when he’s batting] on what he’s looking for.”
Will Daniel Murphy set any records this year? We will see. The season is a quarter complete and a long way to go.
— #Statcast (@statcast) May 20, 2016
When it comes to Murphy’s defense, he has shown that he can be good at times and not so good. Luckily the ‘good’ has outweighed the ‘not so good’ so far and perhaps his biggest weakness is taking throws from 3rd base or shortstop to complete the pivot on a doubleplay where his footwork and relay throws aren’t his strength.
In the video below from Cut4, Murphy showed some ‘trickeration’ that he pulled on his old team.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 20, 2016
Murphy in his career has played both infield and outfield and he was drafted as a corner infielder and began his Minor League career playing mostly 3rd base and 1st base and then was shifted to the outfield. Murphy played a little 2nd base in the Minors by his 2nd year and played it exclusively in the Arizona Fall League. If you look at Murphy’s MLB chart, he has played LF, 3rd base, 2nd base and 1st base.
If you believe in UZR metrics or the eye test, Daniel Murphy is supposed to be an above average defender at 1st base where he has logged near 200 games. In the past few years, Murphy was predominantly a 2nd baseman and continued to play 1st base when needed.
That in itself is a plus for the Washington Nationals, and the team should consider using Murphy at 1st base when Ryan Zimmerman leaves for paternity leave for the birth of his second daughter, and callup Trea Turner to play 2nd base.
This week when the Nationals traveled to Citifield, the Mets presented Daniel Murphy with his NL Championship ring from 2015, and the team produced a video montage in his honor that they showed in the pre-game on the JumboTron.
“I made it clear to Murph that without his substantial contribution, none of us would be wearing that ring today,” general manager Sandy Alderson said this week.
If you want to read about Daniel Murphy’s humble beginnings, you can read this.