That's what they call it in the biz. Pressers.
"When the lights are bright, this guy seems to put his best at bat"
The Post focused on Murphy's K-rate which was a MLB low 7.1% last year. Even if we buy the connection - there are two follow-up questions, is a low K-rate necessarily good and can Murphy keep up this low K-rate.
To answer the first... eh. The next lower K-rate for a batter was held by Andrelton Simmons who was awful. After that though came Buster Posey, Michael Brantley, and Jose Altruve. So I looked at the past five years and found... nothing conclusive. Not striking out, even at an extreme level doesn't really seem to help you out.
Can he keep it up? As far as the K-rate goes I'd guess no. He pretty much was a 13.5% guy from 2012-2014. But I'm not sure that means anything either. Last year was an odd year for Murphy. He dropped his K-rate and his BB-rate dropped too. That's not unexpected assuming you think he's trying to put the ball in play more. However he bumped his power up, which is a bit strange. Well maybe he was hitting the ball harder? Well at the same time though his BABIP dropped considerably from past years. And let's not forget he became a much stronger pull hitter. Put it all together and you have a year that gets Murphy results but in a way he never got it before.
If you're asking me if he can keep up production. I would bet on Murphy not walking and not striking out. I'd bet on him hitting around .285 with 15 homers. However I don't know exactly how he'll do it. So if you're asking me if he can be that tough to strike out again, I guess I'd say no.
Oh, but what if we don't buy the connection in the article. What if we take it to mean hitting well in big spots. We all know he killed it in the playoffs... until he didn't. When the bright lights were brightest - the World Series - he actually hit only .150 / .320 / .150. Ouch. But before that he was a golden God and he overall had a great post-season.
Career wise it's a mixed bag. Late & Close - terrible. High Leverage - meh. 2 outs, RISP - great! There isn't any pattern here (which is what we usually expect to see - no pattern).
Basically if you take the comment to be he'll do well in big spots... I don't see how you can believe that. He'll do as he does. Fine.
"I’m most comfortable with, whichever one they plug me in that day, that’s my favorite position"
Nice to say but probably not true. He hasn't played a ton of innings anywhere outside of 2nd since 2011 so we can't say anything with a lot of confidence but it does seem he is not comfortable at all at 2nd. His range looks bad no matter which defensive measure you like and he makes a ton of errors. He seems a bit less error prone at 3rd base (and possibly ok in the OF but that's been years) so he's probably most comforatble there, despite what he likes to say. Of course he did get better it appears at 2nd but it's still not good and he's not getting younger.
I can't actually put down the quote. Maybe he really doesn't care. However, there's a good chance he should be playing 3rd.
Boswell : Rizzo believes he completed the last essential part of the Nats’ offseason
I'm not sure that's true. Rizzo will say whatever he feels like is the best thing to say at the time. At best, I can take it to be 90% true. As Boswell writes - they got their pen arms. They got their lefty bat. They don't have any obvious holes to fill from a departing player from last year. They could go out there as is. What's the 10% then? Trading Storen. That has to happen and don't tell me it doesn't. Papelbon we'll get to in a second, but Storen has to go. Boswell also catches the important caveat to what he's saying. The Nats don't have to act but can. They can fiddle for a new pitcher or another OF or something else.
Now personally I think they Nats still NEED to do more. There's that Storen piece and I'd argue given the injury history of this Nats team (Murphy missed 20 games 2 years ago 30 games last year) the Nats need another playable bat and preferably one in the OF since we don't know if MAT will turn the corner. But this is me. I can see Boz's take on what Rizzo's is saying here. I just hope it's not actually the truth of Rizzo's opinion.
“And I’ve talked to Pap.”... According to one person present, Rizzo spread his
arms, looked to the heavens and said, “Thank you!”
Papelbon will be here next year. I've been saying this for a while. The Nats put themselves in a terrible spot where they have two guys on the team they don't really want and can't feel secure about. Given Storen's reaction again to pitching in the 8th, you can't keep both. But given you didn't trust him enough that you brought in a "real closer" twice now, you can't trade Papelbon and keep Storen. But given Papelbon choked Bryce, you can't keep Papelbon and trade Storen. But given Storen's reaction again to pitching the 8th...
The way out of this endless circle* is if you CAN keep Papelbon and trade Storen because Bryce says you can. Short leash on Pap, no tolerance, and making it clear that he's only here on Bryce's good graces, but it can work. And that's what I think will happen unless someone makes a great offer for the guy.
*or trading both but then you have to bring in someone else completely reliable - tough to do.