I did not see Daniel Murphy having this great of an impact with the Nationals. 2015 saw him have one of the best post-seasons, in all of baseball, and it has carried over into 2016. Murphy has slashed .387/.420/.607 through 44 games. He has six home runs while driving in 28 and scoring 25 runs. But what has made Murphy such a success over the last few seasons? Since 2013, Murphy has averaged nearly 170 hits in nearly 585 at-bats giving him an average just shy of .290. I’ve always considered Murphy an underappreciated player. I’m sure this wasn’t the case for Mets fans, and now Nationals fans, but this could easily have been the case for baseball fans that didn’t watch him play on a daily basis. While he may not be a perennial 15+ HR hitter, he’s a player that will do whatever he needs to be successful from game-to-game. If you’ve been able to roster him in fantasy baseball there’s no questioning he’s produced at a high level whether he was your starting second baseman or utility player. 2015 saw Murphy as the 74th ranked hitter in Major League Fantasy Sports leagues, and fell 0.05pts from finishing as a top-10 second baseman. If Murphy can keep pace of his torrid start there’s no questioning his ability to be a top-10 fantasy second baseman.
Since 2013, Murphy has shown great plate discipline. He’s shown the ability to layoff pitches outside of the zone and this has a direct correlation to the fact that he’s never accumulated 100+ strikeouts in one season. As a matter of fact, the closest he’s come was 95 in 2013. Since 2008, he’s averaged only 64.2 strikeouts per season. Through 44 games, Murphy has 19 strikeouts and has been drawn 10 walks. This is huge for anyone that wants to be successful at the plate. If we look deeper, there’s a better way to evaluate the progress Murphy has made since 2013. Murphy’s contact on pitches inside the zone has gone up each season from 92.9 (2013) to 96.0 in 2016. Last season, Murphy’s Z-Contact% was a staggering 97.5 and lead MLB.
Murphy’s increase in hard contact (Hard%) has been directly linked to his discipline at the plate. He’s always hovered around 30%, but 2016 has seen a dramatic increase to 39.7%. This number may come down, but he’s already put together 22 extra-base hits in 163 at-bats. A quarter of the way through, and Murphy is on pace to hit nearly 24 home runs which would be a new career-best. In MLFS leagues Murphy is the fourth-rated player among second basemen. Amongst all hitters, Murphy ranks 10th and this is phenomenal production for a player with an average fantasy draft position of the 9th round or later. Regardless, if ahead or behind in the count, Murphy has hammered opposing pitching. While ahead in the count Murphy has produced a .389 average while hitting .393 when batting from behind. Maybe he thrives off the pressures? Another interesting split is his numbers at home compared to on the road. At home Murphy has slashed .415/.451/.615 with two home runs, 12 RBI, and nine runs scored. On the road, Murphy has been just as successful slashing .367/.400/.602 with four home runs, 16 RBI, and 16 runs scored.
Jake Arrieta is another player picking up where he left off. 2015 was a career-year that carried into the post-season. The defending Cy Young Award winner has been in the same form and that’s lead to an 8-0 record through nine starts . Since 2014, Arrieta’s K/9 has never dropped below 9.00 and he’s managed to keep his BB/9 under three. The most eye-popping stat is Arrieta’s WHIP. The past three seasons has seen it drop from 0.99, 0.86, to 0.84 in 2016. He’s become one of the hardest pitchers to hit and has no-hitters in back-to-back seasons. If we look deeper into his statistics, his BABIP has seen a dramatic decrease. In 2014, his BABIP was .274 and it dropped 28 points in 2015, and another 39 points in 2016. It’s no secret there’s one last year of arbitration before Arrieta becomes a free agent. However, I believe Arrieta will receive a $200+mil contact during the next offseason. He’s too good to let walk away, and has been arguably one of the best pitchers for one of the most storied franchises in all of baseball. Jed was able to acquire Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and two international signing bonus slots for pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger.
If we look at a three-year span it’s easy to see why Arrieta has been one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball. In terms of wins, only Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have more from 2014-2016. What make it more interesting is the fact that Arrieta had 10 no decisions in 2014. If he wins three of those ten, he’s tied for the Major League lead in this span. While the righty trails three pitchers in terms of strikeouts, Arrieta blows away the competition in WHIP. Only Clayton Kershaw has a better WHIP than Arrieta’s 0.89 since 2014. Allowing less than a batter per inning to reach base has paid huge dividends to Arrieta’s success. I’ve been quoted many times with saying pitchers cannot afford to allow free passes to hitters. Along with minimizing walks I truly believe a pitcher needs to be efficient with his pitch counts. Since 2014, Arrieta has decreased his pitches per innings pitched (P/IP) from 15.4 to 15.0 and finally 14.6 in 2016. Pitches per plate appearance (P/PA) have decreased from 3.93, in 2015, to 3.89 in 2016. With Scott Boras leading Arrieta’s negotiations it’s easy to see why a hefty payday is in the near future.
2016 Daniel Murphy vs. Jake Arrieta: 1-3 (2B)
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday May 22nd, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Every week we will do a quick recap of Fr-Sat games, and a forecast of Monday through Thursday’s games.
Our guests this week are Lenny Melnick and Zak Sauer. Lenny Melnick is a fantasy baseball legend and a pioneer in the business. He is credited with starting the very first fantasy baseball show in 1993 along with Irwin Zwilling and Sandy Stolle. He also has a website which you can find at lennymelnickfantasysports.com where you can find all his work, and it is a great overall free community. Zak is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com, a co-host of our Saturday football shows starting June 4th, and the co-host of Sports Buffet’s radio show “Sports Talk” every Monday with Lou Landers.
“You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday May 19th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #14 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Our Thursday night show will do some weekly recaps, player updates, and preview the coming week-end games.
Our guests this week are Hernan Batista and Bryan Luhrs. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, a writer with MLFS, and a key member of our organization. Hernan is a frequent guest on our radio shows and an owner in MLFB1 and MLFB2.
You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”