MILWAUKEE -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy continues to stay hot at the plate. After going 3-for-5 in a 6-5 loss to the Brewers on Saturday, Murphy is leading the National League in batting average (.354), hits, total bases and multihit games.
Yet in the latest Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, Murphy was second among NL second basemen with 1,572,890 votes, 483,232 behind the Cubs' Ben Zobrist.
But in talking to teammate Jayson Werth, Murphy is more than just the best hitter on the Nationals. Werth went so far as to say Murphy is one of the team's leaders.
"When you look at the big picture, we lose a pretty big piece in this organization in Ian Desmond," Werth said. "Ian was a team leader and a quality human being. And Murph steps in, he comes to a new team and almost fills the role that same way. He is a vocal leader, he is a clubhouse leader. It's natural for him. It's not being forced.
"He has been great with the guys in the clubhouse. That's not getting into what he's done on the field. All that stuff kind of speaks for itself. Anybody can look at the numbers and see that he has played fantastic. The biggest thing for us is that he filled the void that I thought would be tough to fill."
How good is Murphy with the bat? Whenever teammates are slumping, manager Dusty Baker suggests that they go to Murphy for hitting tips.
"He has concentration and discipline," Baker said. "He studies probably as much as anybody. He has a pretty good idea, and his confidence is at an all-time high. He always thought he could hit. Now, he really knows he can hit."
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.