Deep playoff runs, regardless of sport, often feature production from places which are least expected. And for the New York Mets and their 2015 World Series run, nothing was less predictable than the home run surge of second baseman Daniel Murphy, who is now with the Nationals.
It's not that Murphy wasn't a good hitter. He had long been known as a guy who can get a bat on the ball and avoid strikeouts. But home runs? Not exactly his forté.
That was until October, of course, when Murphy smacked seven homers in 14 games in his first ever postseason. His unlikely run included homers in six straight games, which earned him NLCS MVP honors.
Murphy hit only 14 homers in 130 total games in the 2015 regular season. That was a career-high after he clubbed only nine the year before.
Though the postseason homers appeared at first to be an aberration, Murphy wonders if an adjustment to his swing is the real reason for his newfound power.
"The big question is whether I can hit homers. I did it in the postseason with some adjustments and some foundations that were laid in New York last year working with hitting instructors there. And I’ve already been in discussions with Rick Schu. Hopefully some of the adjustments we’ve made can continue. I feel that Rick and I will be able to add to that, hopefully going forward. He will be able to tell me some things and we can have a new dialogue that I’ve never heard before. Hopefully we can have that relationship growing in spring training. I don’t know if I can keep hitting home runs, but I sure hope so," Murphy said.
Murphy had never played in the postseason before, but did not look like it, as he helped power the Mets NL pennant. He hopes to draw confidence from that experience, which could also help him as a hitter moving forward.
"I think the biggest thing is it kind of allowed me to realize that I can slow my heart rate down when things are moving really fast. I had never done the postseason before and then Game 5 against the Dodgers, I needed Maalox. Things were moving really fast leading up to the game starting. To be able to be in that position, which many players on the Nationals have done before. To have that postseason experience allows you to slow your heart rate down and become a little more accustomed to it. It was something I had never experienced before," he said.
That is not to say Murphy will be overconfident, either. He described how his life changed after the playoffs. Whatever did change, it didn't last long.
"It's humbling. The home runs and the run we were able to go on in New York, it was fun," he said. "But you come back to reality really quickly when you get home and look at the wife with a 21-month-old and she's nine months pregnant. It's like 'alright, time to focus on the offseason.'"