The Nationals are headed to the postseason for the third time in five seasons, after winning the National League East. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of second baseman Daniel
The Nationals are headed to the postseason for the third time in five seasons, after winning the National League East. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Born: Jacksonville, Fla.
HS: Englewood (Fla.) Senior High School
College: Jacksonville University
Minors: Kingsport (R), GCL Mets (R), Brooklyn (A-), St. Lucie (A+), Binghamton (AA), New Orleans (AAA)
:: Before they were postseason-bound: Select a player ::
Path to Washington: Murphy was selected by the Mets in the 13th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He debuted for the Mets in 2008 and played his first seven Major League seasons with New York before signing with the Nationals this offseason.
Trophy case: NLCS MVP in 2015 after leading the Mets to a sweep of the Cubs. Two-time All-Star, with the Nationals this season and the Mets in 2014. Two-time National League Player of the Month, this May and July. Led the National League in slugging and doubles this season.
Famous feat(s): He mashed home runs in six straight postseason games for the Mets last October, setting a Major League record. Hit seven homers overall in the playoffs -- two off Clayton Kershaw and one each off Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Fernando Rodney.
You might not know: Murphy credits Mets hitting coach Kevin Long and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler with helping turn him into one of the game's best hitters, starting in the 2015 playoffs and continuing through this year's regular season.
"Some of the adjustments were spot on," Murphy said in May when he returned to Citi Field for the first time this year as a member of the Nats. "I was really struggling with pitches away. They thought moving up on the plate would be wise. They said when you pull the ball in the air, you are much more dangerous than when you try to shoot it to left field."
Six degrees of Willie Aikens: Back in 2007, when Murphy was a 22-year-old prospect in the Mets system, he played winter ball in Hawaii, for the Waikiki Beach Boys. Also on the team was Mets first baseman Lucas Duda. Not a member of the Beach Boys, but a fellow member of the Hawaiian winter league, was Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
"It was fun, but it was so expensive," Murphy said of the experience. "Living on Waikiki Beach isn't cheap, and we didn't exactly make a bunch of money."
Father of the Year: Murphy's son, Noah, was born at the beginning of the 2014 season, so Murphy missed the Mets' Opening Day on paternity leave. Murphy was criticized by some fans and media for missing games, but strongly supported by the Mets and manager Terry Collins -- and Murphy ended up being invited to speak at a White House event for working fathers that June.
"When Noah asks me one day, 'What happened? What was it like when I was born?' I could have answered 'Well, Stephen Strasburg hung me a breaking ball that day, son, and I slammed it into the right-field corner,' " Murphy said at the time. "But ... long after they tell me that I'm not good enough to play professional baseball anymore, I'll be a father. And I'll be a husband. So that was a reason on the front end that I wanted to be there for my wife and for my son."
Met, Met killer: This season, Murphy recorded a hit in all 19 games of the Nationals' season series against the Mets, passing Tony Gwynn for the most games with a hit to start a career against the Mets. Over the 19 games against his old team, Murphy batted .413 (31-for-75) with seven home runs, six doubles and 21 RBIs. When he first returned to Flushing, Mets fans gave Murphy a long ovation; by September, they were booing him like any other Met killer.
"I appreciated that, definitely, the cheers and the fact that the organization was willing to play a [video] montage, that spoke volumes about New York," Murphy said. "[Now] they treat me like a division rival who comes to town hitting in the middle of the lineup."
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler.