Murphy, who was named the MLBPA’s NL Most Outstanding Player Wednesday, and is one of three finalists for NL MVP, finished in the top two in every major offensive category among National League second basemen. He was first in home runs (25), RBI (104), and slugging percentage (.595). His 5.5 FanGraphs WAR was also tops and he was second in batting average (.347) and on-base percentage (.390). All surpassed his previous career-best outputs and rendered his $8 million salary a bargain.
The 31-year-old Murphy devoured pitching with remarkable consistency: His lowest OPS for a month was .830, in June. Only four NL second basemen compiled an OPS better than .830 over the entire season. He exceeded 1.000 in three separate months and was named the NL Player of the Month for May and July. He was slowed only when he sustained a strained glute in September, which limited his workload to two pinch-hit appearances over the final 22 games, but returned to hit .429 in the playoffs.
Ramos’s campaign — and perhaps his Nationals career — concluded with a deep August slump and an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee in late September, but he still finished second in home runs (22), tied for first in RBI (80), was first in slugging (.496) and was third in OBP (.354) among National League catchers in a career-high 131 games.
The Nationals declined to extend the 29-year-old Ramos a $17.2 million qualifying offer earlier this week over concerns about his availability next season after he underwent knee surgery Oct. 14. But the team met with his representatives Tuesday and both sides have not ruled out a return to Washington.
Ramos’s representatives insist he will be ready to play by May as a full-time catcher despite the knee concerns and Ramos acknowledging that signing with an American League team so he could split time as a DH is sensible. Regardless, the injury will cost Ramos, who was in line for a contract in the neighborhood of $80 million, significant money this winter.