Fantastic 4-game stretch of HRs for Murphy
On the surface, Daniel Murphy's four-game postseason home run streak is undeniably impressive. The deeper you dig into Murphy's run, however, the more remarkable it becomes.
Murphy's stretch of four consecutive playoff games with a homer trails only Carlos Beltran's five-game run for the Astros in 2004. It's even more noteworthy, given the four pitchers he faced, the four game situations he changed and the four other players to have accomplished the feat.
Let's examine Murphy's incredible run in that context:
The 4 pitchers he faced
Hitting home runs is not easy against any pitcher -- let alone four guys with a combined four Cy Young Awards between them (and soon to be five). Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta -- in no particular order -- will likely finish 1-2-3 in the National League Cy Young Award voting. Murphy homered against all three of them, plus Jon Lester, certainly no slouch himself.
During the regular season, those four pitchers combined to allow just 55 home runs in 889 1/3 innings -- or 0.56 HR/9. Here's a look at the unlikely nature of those four dingers:
1. Off Kershaw, NLDS Game 4: Murphy had already homered against the three-time Cy Young Award winner in Game 1 of the NLDS. In Kershaw's entire career, no left-handed hitter had ever homered against him in two games within the same season. Murphy did so twice in the same postseason series.
2. Off Greinke, NLDS Game 5: No pitcher in baseball was more effective at preventing runs than Greinke, whose 1.66 ERA was the lowest in 20 years. During the regular season, Greinke surrendered just 14 home runs in his 32 starts.
3. Off Lester, NLCS Game 1: Having posted six seasons with a HR/9 total lower than 1, Lester is tied for seventh among active players. He surrendered 16 home runs during the regular season -- only four of which were hit by left-handed batters.
4. Arrieta, NLCS Game 2: This was probably the most shocking homer of the four. Arrieta led the Majors with a HR/9 mark of 0.4 -- the lowest by a pitcher with at least 200 innings since Matt Cain in 2011. Arrieta had allowed just four home runs on the road all year.
Next up to face Murphy: The Cubs' Kyle Hendricks in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
"He's swinging a hot bat," Hendricks said. "Sometimes the best thing to do is pick your spots. See when guys are on base, when they're not, when you can pitch around him. Regardless, when he comes up, you've definitely got to be careful. You can't make any mistakes."
The 4 game situations
All four of Murphy's home runs (and especially the last three), had a significant impact on the games themselves. Let's take a look at the situations surrounding each of them:
1. NLDS Game 4: Dodgers 3, Mets 0; 4th inning, bases empty
Win probability added: 9 percent
2. NLDS Game 5: Mets 2, Dodgers 2; 6th inning, bases empty
Win probability added: 19 percent
3. NLCS Game 1: Mets 0, Cubs 0; 1st inning, bases empty
Win probability added: 11 percent
4. NLCS Game 2: Mets 1, Cubs 0; first inning, man on 2nd
Win probability added: 12 percent
With those four home runs alone, Murphy increased the Mets' win probabilities by a combined 51 percent. His solo shot off of Greinke -- which boosted the Mets' chances by 19 percent -- is tied for the 14th most impactful homer in franchise history, according to WPA.
The 4 other players with 4-game streaks
Until Murphy joined the club Sunday night, only four players in history had homered in four consecutive games within a single postseason. And all four of those players are well-remembered for their exploits. Let's run down the list:
1. Jeffrey Leonard, 1987 Giants: To this day, Leonard is the last player to be named MVP of a League Championship Series from a losing team. In Game 4 against the Cardinals, Leonard's two-run homer put the Giants on top for good -- although they would go on to lose the series in seven games.
2. Juan Gonzalez, 1996 Rangers: There's a legitimate argument to be made that Gonzalez's performance in the ALDS vs. the Yankees is the greatest ever by a player in a single series. He hit five homers in four games and posted an OPS of 1.901.
3. Beltran, 2004 Astros: Beltran's performance in the '04 postseason has been well documented, as he launched eight homers in his first nine games. The first home run in Beltran's five-game streak came during the decisive NLDS Game 5 in Atlanta. (Beltran actually went deep twice in that game.) He then went deep in four straight vs. St. Louis.
4. Evan Longoria, 2008 Rays: The Rays burst onto the baseball scene in 2008 in large part because of Longoria, then a 22-year-old rookie. He announced his presence with authority in the ALCS against the Red Sox, going deep in Games 2-5.
Murphy's streak obviously ranks among some of the best postseason stretches ever. He's already firmly etched his name in the record books.
And should his exploits lead the Mets to their first title in 29 years, Murphy will be destined for legendary status in New York.