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Daniel Murphy's power surge brewing all year

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New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy is having an incredible postseason, but his power bat has been more prominent this year.

Daniel Murphy homers off Jon Lester in Game 1 of the NLCS. Yawn.
Daniel Murphy homers off Jon Lester in Game 1 of the NLCS. Yawn.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

When Daniel Murphy was a freshman at Jacksonville University, all the freshmen took turns standing up and introducing themselves and say what position they played.  When it came time for Murphy to introduce himself he stood up and said, "I'm Daniel Murphy, and I bat third."

That anecdote has served to describe Murphy's seven-year Major League Baseball career all too well - for many years he was a hitter without a position.  The Mets tried him in a disastrous experiment in left field, at first base, and at third base during David Wright's injuries.  He's found himself a home as an awkward but somehow effective second baseman, carving a niche for himself with an above average bat and the kind of blue collar attitude that endears itself to fans.

This postseason has served as Murphy's coming-out party, as he hit four home runs to lead the Mets to victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and Game 1 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs and another in Game 2 against Jake Arrieta.  Other than the dramatic timing of the long balls, Murphy has homered off of some of the elite pitchers in baseball - Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grienke, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. In the six games he's played so far in the postseason, Murphy is hitting .357/.379/.929.

Murphy's power bat has certainly come alive this October, but this been a trend that has been going on for the entire season.  His .168 ISO this season is the highest of his career, and is the first time since his second season in 2009 that he's posted an ISO greater than .129.  He set a career high with 14 home runs in 2015 and smoked 38 doubles in only 130 games played.

There are a few different explanations for Murphy's power returning this season, but first we should take a quick trip back to 2010.  After Murphy failed miserably in left field and had some success at first base defensively in 2009, the Mets decided that Murphy's future was at second base.  The move made sense with top prospect Ike Davis ready to inherit the first base job in 2010, and second base prospect Reese Havens unable to stay healthy.

This required sending Daniel Murphy down to the minor leagues to learn a completely new position.  But just 11 games into his minor league stint, Murphy tore his medial collateral ligament while trying to turn a double play, ending his season.  In the 2011 season, Murphy got himself to the majors and was having a successful season which came to an end when Atlanta Braves infielder Jose Constanza's spike came up and clipped him on the knee and injured his MCL again.

Owing to Davis being out with a fracture in his ankle that wouldn't heal,[1] and David Wright's broken back, Murphy hadn't played much second base, and was in awful position when Constanza ended his season.

Murphy returned from the injury fully healthy in 2012, and over the next three seasons hit .288/.327/.407 and was an All-Star in 2014.  With the Mets hiring Kevin Long as their hitting coach this offseason, Murphy saw his power numbers increase back to the point where they were when he first debuted.  Take a look at the two pictures below.  The one on the left is Murphy batting early in 2012.  The one on the right is his stance right before hitting a home run off of Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Murphy is now crouched over more and holds his hands lower and closer to his body. As a result he is able to generate more power in his swing.  In 2008 and 2009 when Murphy was first in the majors, his stance was more crouched over, and he posted ISOs of .160 and .161.  The move to a more upright stance came in 2010, and from 2011 through 2014, his ISOs dipped to .128, .112, .129, and .114.

Long said during spring training that Murphy had "a lot of pop" and "we are going to try and draw that out."  He's accomplished that mission, and the Mets are reaping the benefits of it in the postseason.



[1] This was step 1 in the tragic career of Ike Davis, followed by a bout of Valley Fever that effectively altered his career.

Joe Vasile is the Assistant General Manager and Voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs Baseball team of the Coastal Plain League and the Voice of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke football and basketball.  Follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.