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Daniel Murphy and his never-ending pursuit of the perfect swing

June 1st, 2017 at 12:43 PM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

Daniel Murphy is always in search of the perfect swing. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Chris Heisey knows seven percent of ground balls result in extra-base hits because Daniel Murphy told him so. Murphy calls them “seven-percenters.” Heisey never heard of that term before they became teammates last year.

“He’ll just say it randomly,” Heisey said. “A guy will hit a double and he’ll say, ‘That’s a seven-percenter right there.’

It’s a recent entry in the Washington Nationals second baseman’s ever-evolving hitting lexicon. It’s perhaps the most pertinent to his improbable career arc, because the infrequency serves as the philosophical foundation in his abrupt rise from solid everyday player to MVP-caliber face of baseball’s latest hitting revolution.

Murphy emphasizes that the objective in the batter’s box â?? get a ball in your zone, barrel it, and produce a line drive â?? remains the same. Yet he sprung to stardom after his 30th birthday absorbing the analytical rhetoric that most front offices have embraced, but clubhouses have shunned, with one recently developed guiding principle: always avoid hitting a groundball.

It’s the latest turn in his lifelong pursuit of the perfect swing, and he’s willing to tell you about it if you’re willing to listen.

“I’ve always enjoyed the swing,” said the 32-year-old Murphy, who’s slashing .325/.380/.555 in 48 games this season. “I’ve always enjoyed watching the swing, learning about the swing. And one of the best ways to retain information is to teach it to someone. So each time I’m talking about hitting, I’m reaffirming in my mind the best way I think it is to attack the baseball.”

Murphy doesn’t impose on teammates. He understands everybody is different. Some prefer feel over information. But if a teammate wants to talk hitting, he obliges. Last month, for example, he advised Heisey on hand positioning, demonstration included, in the visitors’ clubhouse at SunTrust Park. Last July, when Trea Turner briefly encountered the rookie wall, Murphy told him “to swing straight up.” And the list goes on.

“Daniel always figures out a way to start talking about hitting,” Heisey said. “We can be in chapel or bible studies, in the dugout or the clubhouse. It doesn’t ….

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Tags: Daniel Murphy, Hitting, MLB, Nationals

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