Murphy Swings His Way to Strong Season

Murphy's numbers are on the rise

For St. Lucie's Dan Murphy, it has been a year of discovery. He entered 2007 off an injury-plagued rookie campaign that was limited to just 25 games played across the three lowest levels of the Mets system. However, this year, he will compile 500-plus at-bats and find out what player he will be in the future.

The following is an excerpt from the feature article in the upcoming print edition of Inside Pitch Magazine

"I think being able to get in there everyday and playing everyday, I've been able to figure out what works and what doesn't. Working with my hitting coach has been great. Getting a season's worth of AB's, I will able to find out exactly what I can do," he said.

Daniel Murphy's ability to spray balls around the field, and produce from the heart of the St. Lucie order, is what he does best. Hitting third in the order, between other Mets in the midst of huge years in Sean Henry and Nick Evans, Murphy has been able to stay within his game without overreaching for power. Though he can drive the ball out of the park, he is a single and doubles hitter by trade. Thanks to his placement in the order, he receives a healthy offering of fastballs and he takes advantage.

"I've been hitting between Sean and Nick and that's helped me hit really well," he said. "They've been having great summers which have let me see more pitches which I can more easily handle."

As the season progressed, Murphy grew more as a hitter. After hitting just .261 through the first two months, hitting coach Luis Natera worked with his third baseman to start incorporating his legs more into his swing. That in-season adjustment made all the difference and led to his second half spike. Not coincidentally, he has seen his batting average rise every month of the season.

More importantly, he has been able to carry that calm plate demeanor in tight situations with a strong batting average with runners in scoring position. Instead of becoming jumpy or expanding his strikeout in those scenarios, he scales it back and keeps it simple.

"I try not to do too much. With guys on base or in scoring position, a single will do the job. Once I relax in that situation, singles become doubles and so on. Once you relax and a get good pitches to hit, you get more out of those at-bats," he explained.

Additionally, what makes Murphy special is his natural ability to handle left-handed pitching. As a rare left-handed hitting third baseman, his splits against pitchers from either side do not deviate very far. With a mirrored approach against both sides of the mound, he is able to stay consistent in any at-bat.

"Lefties have been giving a lot of them to hit and I don't try to do too much with them. I just try to put the barrel on the bat and get clean hits. It's just about getting good knocks against lefties. It's really helped me as a hitter, avoiding having to learn to hit against them," he detailed.

Outside the batter's box, Murphy personifies hard work and discipline to club that suits up many young players. Although only a sophomore in the Mets' system, he had led by example through his season-long advancements, and his tight bonds with Josh Peterson, Nick Evans and Sean Henry – a pretty talented foursome that could potentially make noise up the ladder.

"We're always looking to help each other," he said. "We're all in line down the order so each of our at-bats positively affects the next."

The foursome has all put up similar numbers. When asked if he would like to see the group advance up the system together, he responded, "We're definitely close and whatever the Mets want to do with us, move us up together, that'd be awesome because we play really well together."

Murphy nears all the goals he had set out for prior to the start of the season. Yet with the club out of contention in the Florida State League, he will not let his strong season have him thinking ahead to next year.

"It's not even about the home stretch of games coming up. It's all about one at-bat to the next at-bat. In April, when I was struggling, if I had looked at the whole picture, I may not have come out of it. I need to keep it right in front of me. I worry about each time I step up to the plate and let the outside forces take care of the rest."

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