The New York Mets are National League Champions thanks in large part to Daniel Murphy's sudden power surge at the dish. Murphy's hot streak arrived at just the right time, when the Mets were facing the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester. Murphy's six home runs set a postseason record for the most consecutive playoff games with a home run and a Mets' record for the most homers in Mets' postseason history.
The Mets current run through the playoffs (they never trailed in the LCS...not even for a second) finally exorcises the demons from the two failed postseason bids in 2007 and 2008, and the heart-wrenching loss against the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS.
The Mets 2006 run ended when Adam Wainwright closed out Game 7 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium. Down to their final out, and trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Beltran stood at the plate with the bases loaded. Waino threw a ‘12-to-6' curveball that froze Carlos Beltran on a called third strike, which was the last postseason image Mets fans conjured up before their unlikely 2015 run.
While many fans viewed Beltran as the goat in the 2006 NLCS, he entered the 2006 playoffs coming off one of the best postseason runs in modern history. With the 2004 Astros, Beltran absolutely crushed the ball in the team's first NLCS run in nearly 20 years.
Much like Murphy, Beltran saw a beachball with every throw, regardless of who was on the hill. Here's a comparative look at 2004 Beltran versus 2015 Murphy:
|Games||Plate Appearances||Average||On-Base||Slugging||Stolen Bases||Home Runs||Strikeouts||Win Probability Added|
To put some context around the comparison, it's worth mentioning that Carlos Beltran posted fWARs of 5.4 or higher between 2001 and 2004. Daniel Murphy's highest season fWAR is 3.1, which he put up in 2013. Murph came up in 2008 and made his first full season appearance with the Mets in 2009. Beltran was already a known commodity, and while no one expects a player to have a thousand OPS on baseball's biggest stage, all things considered, he was already a star.
The fact that Murphy is an unassuming middle infielder who was hardly a national name prior to the playoffs makes the story all that more compelling. His contract expires this year and he's certain to have suitors lined up for his (relatively) inexpensive service. If nothing else, the Mets would be fools to not at least offer Murphy a qualifying offer, which would put him around the $15 million mark for 2016.
After his playoff run with Houston (who acquired him from KC in a contract year) Beltran signed with the Mets on a seven year deal. While most of the thinking behind the contract was certainly his career numbers to date, the playoff success certainly could not be ignored. In his first season he struggled, but Beltran rebounded mightily in 2006, posting his highest career fWAR at 7.8 wins above replacement. He had a decent 2006 playoff run, but the called third strikeout will forever be singed in the minds of Mets fans.
Daniel Murphy is no Carlos Beltran, no one would make that claim, but each player hit the apex of their game in exactly the right time. The Mets paid handsomely for Carlos Beltran but developed a playoff hero right under their own noses, and no one could have predicted that.
Murphy has revitalized a fan-base, turned around a middling franchise, and exorcised the ghosts of a previous postseason epitomized by a statuesque Carlos Beltran. If Murphy contributes even half of what he did in the first two rounds in the Fall Classic, he will pass Beltran in single postseason win probability added and perhaps bring an unlikely New York team to a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.