Narrative breathes life into postseason baseball. Pundits often discuss things like momentum, clutch hitting, and leadership as if they’re crucial to winning the World Series. Granted, these terms are bantered about in the regular season, as well, but not with the same fervor or lasting impact. Right or wrong, teams and players establish legacies during October.

No major-league player has crafted a more heroic and memorable narrative than New York’s Daniel Murphy. He walloped his way into the national headlines with a home run in six-consecutive postseason games—an unbelievable feat that has only been accomplished 17 times in MLB history, most recently by Chris Davis in 2012. This has all but ensured that the Mets will extend a qualifying offer to their second baseman in the offseason.

Until this postseason outburst, though, Murphy’s status in Manhattan was far from certain. A one-year contract north of $15 million for a perennial two-win player on the wrong side of 30 isn’t exactly a slam dunk—especially for a cash-strapped franchise that desperately wanted to avoid Carlos Gomez’s $9 million salary in 2016. Of course, it’s impossible for a club like the Mets to let Murphy walk after his October heroics. It would stoke the coals of negativity amongst a fan base that believes it should act like a large-market club.

Amongst the fantasy community, too, one should expect Murphy’s stock to improve due to his late-season performance. He’ll be a popular offseason target in dynasty leagues, while there’s a decent chance his draft stock will outrun his rotisserie production from this past season.

However, that doesn’t mean that Daniel Murphy hasn’t improved in key ways this season. In fact, his age-30 season was arguably his best hitting season of his career—even if his declined stolen-base numbers keep him outside the top-10 fantasy second basemen.

First and foremost, as evidenced by his postseason home-run binge, Murphy found another level of power in 2015. His 14 homers is the highest single-season mark of his career. If raw home run numbers aren’t sufficient, his .168 ISO is also a career-high by 39 points. Some have written this off as a fluke, as unsustainable. He ranked 73rd in MLB with an average batted-ball velocity of 90.59 mph—just ahead of guys like Carlos Correa, Jason Heyward, and Todd Frazier. The power appears to exist. He’s just been able to hit more flyballs than a year ago, which resulted in more homers.

Furthermore, the 30-year-old essentially slashed his strikeout rate in half, from 13.4 percent a year ago to 7.1 percent this season. His swinging-strike rate plummeted to 3.9 percent, which is a career best and 1.3 percenage points below his career average. In fact, he owned the best strikeout rate amongst qualified hitters and the 10th-best BB:K ratio. No matter which way one looks at it, Murphy has beautifully honed his skills at the plate.

The ultimate question for fantasy owners is what kind of hitter will Murphy become as he ages, as the current homers become doubles or fly outs, as the average batted-ball velocity drops from 90 mph to 86-87 mph. He’ll become one that is heavily dependent on batting average and will offer little in terms of homers or stolen bases. In other words, I wonder if he eventually becomes someone like Marco Scutaro—someone who is not worth rostering in standard leagues and someone who will “age” rather quickly.

I think this can be seen through his batted-ball distribution, in that all his power has come to the pull side.




















His power is already becoming limited to the pull side. As he ages and as teams focus on his pull side, his production will likely drop. He’ll continue to have great plate discipline and be a worthwhile player, but his fantasy production will undoubtedly decline. This is almost certainly why he has been rather poor against lefties, as he needs to be able to use the opposite field with authority to find success against southpaws.

As we move into the 2016 fantasy season, it’s important to think about Daniel Murphy and his long-term trajectory. He is no longer running on the basepaths. His fantasy production rebounded due to the home run increase, but that’s not likely to continue for too many more years, as he’s already going to be 31 next year. As such, it won’t be wise to invest in the postseason hero, no matter how exciting the narrative.


Owners in dynasty leagues should look to capitalize on his increased trade value as soon as the trading windows open. Don’t let the excitement of October wear off and let the rationality of the long winter sink in. Sell high. As far as yearly owners are concerned, Murphy has a high likelihood of being overvalued in next year’s drafts. Monitor that closely. If his draft stock outpaces his projected production and the downside inherent in his hitter profile, it makes the most sense to avoid him on draft day.

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