As soon as Mickey Callaway was hired as manager of the New York Mets, it was almost a guarantee that Kevin Long would be destined for another team. Although it was not the managerial position he was looking for, Long eventually settled with the divisional rival Nationals.
There, he will be reunited with Daniel Murphy, who left the Mets after one season of Long’s tutelage in the 2015 offseason. Murphy has credited Long with his rise in offensive production, as he has blossomed into a powerful centerpiece for the Nationals. Since joining the Nationals, it has been well-noted that Murphy has absolutely slaughtered the Mets. In 2017 alone, Murphy hit .354 against his old club, to go along with 23 hits and 14 RBIs. Will the loss of Long also come back to haunt the Mets?
In his tenure with the Mets, Long brought the long ball back to Queens. In the three seasons that he was the hitting coach of the Mets, they finished in the top three of home runs hit in the National League, including hitting the most in 2017. Long will joining a lineup that includes Murphy, Bryce Harper, a resurgent Ryan Zimmerman, and Michael Taylor, who has surprising power for his slender frame. If Long was able to pull home runs from Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Lucas Duda, he should have no problem bringing huge power numbers to the Nationals lineup.
In fact, what Long is aiming to do is to make an already offensively strong team stronger. In the National League, the Nationals finished third in many important offensive statistical categories. They finished third in runs scored per game, runs scored, hits, doubles and batting average. If Long makes the team more powerful home run wise, this offense will be more of a nightmare than it already is to pitch against.
The Mets on the other hand will fill the void with Long’s assistant, Pat Roessler. Although this is against the idea of trying to reinvent and reestablish the coaching staff of the Mets, hitting wasn’t the largest concern of the team last year. Sure, their .250 batting average wasn’t the most pretty thing on the eyes, but their power numbers went up. It seems the Mets are trying to hold onto Long’s values as much as possible with the retention of Roessler.
Moving down to Washington, Long will have large shoes to fill. Their former hitting coach, Rick Schu, enjoyed a run of success with the team starting in 2013. With Dusty Baker gone however, the Nationals decided it was time to move on.
Whether or not you liked Long, it is hard to argue that he didn’t do the job that he was brought in to do. The Mets hired him to bring power to the lineup, and he did exactly that. Now, Long is joining the rival Nationals to help a lineup that doesn’t need much help. Will the damage that Long does from the bench equate the damage that Murphy does on the diamond against his former team? It’s hard to say, but don’t be surprised if the Nationals lineup is stocked with Met-killers next season.