The Cubs Are Undefeated Since Acquiring Daniel Murphy

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The Cubs Are Undefeated Since Acquiring Daniel Murphy

Chicago Cubs

I mean, I knew Daniel Murphy was good, but I didn’t know he was *this* good. The power to make his team win every single game in which he participates. Mercy. Some team shoulda traded for this guy back in July.

I kid, of course, but the Chicago Cubs really have won six straight since they acquired Murphy from the Nationals, and, moreover, their offense has looked fundamentally different before and after that trade. Consider that the Cubs’ ridiculous record five-straight-games-with-only-one-solo-home-run streak was immediately before the trade. And since? The Cubs have averaged 7.333 runs per game.

Murphy, himself, has hit a ridiculous .407/.448/.704 (209 wRC+) with the Cubs, popping two homers, driving in five runs, and scoring six. In five of his six games, he’s had multiple hits. In that one game without multiple hits, he homered.

Clearly, Murphy has contributed to the Cubs offensive outburst in a very tangible, calculable way. But the question is, has his presence contributed more broadly to the recent offensive explosion? Or is that just a coincidental artifact of having a lineup with a lot of good hitters in it who were bound to turn it around soon, especially against bad pitching?

Well, it’s probably a little of both, and admittedly mostly the latter. But I do think there’s at least a little something there.

Offense does have a compounding effect. The more guys are on base, the better the bats behind them perform (generally speaking). The more damage you do, the more your offense gets to face less-effective pitchers in the bullpen. Having Murphy doing so much at the top of the lineup certainly could be having a real impact on other guys in the lineup.

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

There’s also the matter of confidence. I can’t and won’t speak to this in too much detail, because you very quickly start playing armchair sports psychologist, and I won’t go there. But you often hear from players on teams who make big in-season trades about the way it can invigorate the rest of the clubhouse – the faith the front office has shown in how far you can go with another piece, the belief in how good the new player can be and how that relaxes you, the push from seeing a new big-time guy come in and go about his business.

When guys feel confident and at ease, their natural talent and the fruits of their hard work can shine through a little more clearly. Could I quantify that for you? I could not. But it would not at all surprise me if it’s under there somewhere, helping to contribute to the overall offensive breakout by the Cubs in this six games since the Murphy trade.

Maybe that’s even peculiarly true for the Cubs and Murphy, a guy who has tormented them in recent years, particularly in the 2015 NLCS when his Mets swept the Cubs and he took home MVP honors.

“It’s been a shot in the arm getting Murph over here,” Jon Lester told last night. “He’s a guy we couldn’t get out and it’s nice to see that the rest of the league can’t get him out either. It’s nice to have him in the lineup and leading off – it just lengthens it.”

Maybe having that very guy – the one who gave Anthony Rizzo nightmares – now in their own lineup is an extra mental boost.

In any case, whether there’s a useful psychological impact or not, Murphy’s a dang good hitter who has been raking in these six games. That certainly helps.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.