Daniel Murphy is the first inductee in a series of features highlighting the ASUN Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Murphy is a two-time MLB National League All-Star and was named the 2015 NLCS MVP after leading the New York Mets to the pennant. Murphy has played 987 career games in the majors, with most of them coming at second base. The 2006 ASUN Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference selection played his first seven seasons in the majors with the Mets before signing with the Washington Nationals this past offseason. Fans can tune in to the 2016 MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday night to see the former Dolphin star. He will be inducted at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on October 17 at the Sawgrass Marriott in Jacksonville, Fla.
Coming off a career year in 2015, former ASUN Player of the Year and Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy is living up to the October hype.
Murphy led his former team, the New York Mets, on an improbable postseason run in 2015, where he batted .328, slugged seven home runs and added 11 RBI. In his first MLB postseason appearance, Murphy delivered on the biggest stage as he earned NLCS MVP honors after hitting .529 with four homers and six runs batted in. His play led the Mets back to the World Series for the first time since 2000. The Jacksonville, Fla., native became a household name nationwide during this past October and the country got to see what people in the River City have known for a long time.
Murphy was a multi-sport athlete at Englewood High School in Jacksonville and he remained in the River City as the Dolphins were the only four-year school to offer him a scholarship. Current Dolphins Head Coach Chris Hayes, an assistant when Murphy starred for JU, had nothing but praise for his former player. "I am very appreciative of the ASUN honoring Daniel. He had such a great career with us at JU, accomplished so much with the Mets and continues to do great things with the Nationals." said Hayes. "He's a winner, plain and simple. He's a well deserving inductee to the ASUN Hall of Fame."
Alan Verlander, Jacksonville Athletics Director during Murphy's career with the Dolphins, said, "I saw leadership and integrity in him from day one and his ability to get along with and lead all the student athletes was admirable. He always played the game at his maximum effort and we were fortunate to make it to the NCAA's his last year. Of all of the student-athletes that played a JU while I was leading the department, Daniel will go down as one of my favorites."
Hitting has always been Murphy's strength and he showcased that talent throughout his ASUN career with the Dolphins. As a freshman, Murphy hit .377 and slugged .506 in a limited role. The following year, he earned a starting role and drove in 31 runs, while once again hitting over .300. His breakout season came in 2006, his final season with the Dolphins. Murphy batted .398, had a career-best of six home runs and drove in 55 runs on his way to the ASUN Player of the Year honor.
The left-handed hitter became the first major leaguer to homer in six consecutive postseason games in 2015, but he has always possessed a flare for the dramatics. Entering the 2006 ASUN Championship with a knee injury, Murphy came off the bench to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth against Campbell with runners on the corners in a tied game. Former Head Coach Terry Alexander recalled the moment to the New York Daily News last October, "The first swing that (Murphy) took, he hit it off the top of the fence. All Murph could do was get to first base. He limped down to first."
A few weeks later, the New York Mets drafted Murphy in the 13th round of the 2006 draft and the Jacksonville native began his professional baseball career in the Mets organization. He finished the 2006 summer in rookie and class A ball before heading to the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League for the 2007 season. Murphy slugged 11 home runs and was promoted to AA in 2008, where he showcased his hitting ability once more. After driving in 67 runs and hitting 13 long balls, Murphy got the call to the big league after only one game at AAA.
Murphy's first full season in the MLB was in 2009 as the left hander played in 155 games at first base. His hitting ability kept him in the lineup, but it wasn't until the 2012 season when he earned the starting job at second base for the New York Mets. He rewarded the organization's trust in him by hitting .280 or better in each of his last four years and exploding during the 2015 postseason.
Murphy became one of the coveted free agents following the 2015 breakout postseason performance and division rival Washington was able to sign the 31-year old infielder. He has lived up to the heightened expectations as Murphy is hitting .348; best in MLB heading into the All-Star break, while his 117 hits are tied for second most in the majors.
Despite all of the accolades on the field, from ASUN Player of the Year to NLCS MVP, Murphy has earned the reputation as someone who constantly works at his craft. He has overcome several injury setbacks in his career and is now reaping the rewards. "Murph has always played the game the right way, serving as a great teammate and always being part of the solution." Coach Hayes said of Murphy, "Wherever he goes, whichever team he is with, they win." To this day, Murphy spends his offseasons in Jacksonville and attends practices with the Dolphins to provide the next generation of hitters valuable insight.
Throughout his career, coaches moved him around the diamond defensively. However, when it came to the offensive side of the game, Murphy always knew where he was supposed to play. At the first team meeting of Murphy's freshman year, Coach Alexander asked each player to introduce himself by name and what position he played in the field. Murphy let his coach and teammates know where he played. "I'm Daniel Murphy from Englewood High School, and I bat third."
- Quotes taken from New York Daily News Article "Mets playoff hero Daniel Murphy, who blasted team to World Series, was a big hit since his younger days" by Christian Red, October 23, 2015.