Daniel Murphy is a man on a mission. A free agent to be, the New York Mets second baseman is having one of the most prolific postseason performances ever seen in the modern era. Through seven games, he is riding a seven-game hitting streak, batting .375 with an OPS of 1.308, along with five home runs and eight RBIs.
But his performance goes beyond the numbers, however. Murphy has put on this clinic against some of the best pitchers in the game today. He has hit home runs against Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, John Lester and Jake Arrieta. That’s pretty impressive considering three of these pitchers are candidates for this year’s Cy Young Award, while Lester has a history of coming up big in big games.
Murphy has been so prolific this playoff season that his name is going to start drawing comparisons to some of the best postseason performers of recent memory, which is a big reason why Murphy will cash in this Christmas when he hits free agency.
Just by comparison, in 2011 when the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, Albert Pujols led the Cardinals with a .353 average, five homers and 16 RBI and an OPS of 1.155 that October. He was a beast, belting big home runs in key situations like his go-ahead homer in Game 3 of the World Series that pushed St. Louis to a win.
Not only did Pujols have a big October in 2011, so did his teammates Allen Craig (four homers, eight RBI) and David Freese (.397 AVG, 5 HR, 21 RBI). Both players came out of virtually nowhere to put on a clinic for the Cardinals.
Two years ago, David Ortiz put up huge numbers for the Boston Red Sox, belting five home runs, while driving in 13 as the Red Sox won their third championship. However, like Pujols, fans expect Big Papi to do big things come October after years of sustained postseason success.
Then there is the outstanding effort of one Pablo Sandoval last year. Sandoval developed the reputation of being a prolific postseason hitter in the past for the San Francisco Giants, after he exploded for six home runs and 13 RBI in the 2010 playoffs, but, it was his efforts last Fall that got him a mega deal with Boston.
Sandoval didn’t hit any homers, and only drove in five runs, but he managed to hit .366 with 26 base hits including seven doubles and 12 runs scored. He also proved to be a prominent leader in the clubhouse, as he was mic’d up for the entire World Series, which added to his increased value.
Murphy’s exploits probably best compare with that of Freese and Craig, since all three players are not the superstars that Ortiz, Pujols and Sandoval have been; plus their postseason success was so unexpected. In fact, it is even fair to say that Murphy’s has been even more impressive than the two former Cardinals because he’s had success with both David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes badly slumping around him in the lineup. Murphy has willed his team to victories over the Dodgers and Cubs, whereas Freese and Craig fed off of having Pujols and Matt Holiday in the lineup.
It is also interesting to note that, with the exception of David Ortiz, none of these players remained with their parent club. Pujols and Freese are now in Anaheim; Craig is now a journeyman, and Sandoval is now a Red Sox. Perhaps Daniel Murphy is destined to be a former Met after this historic run comes to an end.