In baseball, October magic is very real. It has the power to suddenly turn historically lousy baseball franchises into championship contenders and average players into gods.
This October, with the World Series still left to play, one team under a supernatural sway is the New York Mets, who finished their sweep of the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night to reach their first World Series in 15 years. Aided in part by some very strong pitching, the Mets didn’t trail once during the entire four-game series.
But the truest beneficiary of October’s enchantment was Daniel Murphy, the 30-year-old Mets second baseman, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday. The last of Murphy’s four hits in Wednesday’s clinching game was a home run—his seventh home run of the post-season and his sixth consecutive game with a home run. That’s an all-time playoff record.
Hitting a home run in six straight games is one of baseball’s rarer feats. No member of the New York Mets has ever done it. Murphy, generally considered to be a middling, contact batter and only a slightly above-average player in general, did it in his first post-season, despite only hitting 14 home runs all year.
What gives? Murphy can’t even explain it. “I can’t explain why the balls keep going out of the ballpark, but they do,” he said on Wednesday night.
As Jayson Stark noted, Murphy also has more hits (16) than he does swings and misses during his postseason at-bats. He also has seven straight playoff games with a hit, a run, and an RBI. The only other person to ever do that was Lou Gehrig.
Murphy’s historic tear has both players and pundits likening him to Babe Ruth. His fans took to Wikipedia overnight to brazenly dub him “Mr. October,” an honorific held by Yankee great Reggie Jackson, as well as arbitrarily name him a member of the Supreme Court.
The only person to hit more home runs in one postseason was Barry Bonds, who hit eight in 2002. More notably, Bonds and the San Francisco Giants lost the World Series that year to the Anaheim Angels in seven games.
Regardless of how dominant Murphy has been, like Bonds before him, all of October’s magic and baseball’s playoff records are second-rate consolations without a championship. For now though and for the first time in years, Mets fans aren’t worrying themselves about Murphy’s law.