Nationals activate Daniel Murphy from DL and it'll be so interesting to see how he plays

At long last, on Tuesday afternoon in front of a series against the Yankees, the Nationals announced that All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy was activated from the disabled list. 

Murphy, 33, had been on the disabled list all season after having debridement and micro-fracture surgery on his right knee. At one point during spring training, the Nationals and Murphy were said to be hopeful that he'd be ready to start the season. Then the return date was pushed back. Then it was pushed back some more. His rehab assignment took longer than expected and he only hit .243/.364/.459 in 10 Triple-A games. 

But now he's back, so what can we expect? 

Your guess is as good as mine. 

On the negative side, look at the above paragraph with all the setbacks and a sub-par performance against inferior competition. Murphy's also north of 33 years old and trying to handle a position that needs great lateral movement coming off knee surgery. 

On the positive side, Murphy's two-season average with the Nationals is this: .334/.387/.569, 146 OPS+, 45 doubles, four triples, 24 homers, 98 RBI, 91 runs. That's a line that places Murphy among the best offensive players in the league. 

On the negative side, before Murphy was a machine, he was just a good player. His 162-game average before 2016: .288/.331/.424, 109 OPS+, 41 doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 72 RBI, 76 runs. If he's now entering his decline phase with a banged-up knee, he's liable to hit worse than that along with poor defense and baseruning. 

On the positive side, if Murphy really is fully healed and hits like he did in 2016-17 (and we have to loop back to the 2015 playoffs and probably the last two months of the 2015 regular season, too), the Nationals just got a huge boost to their offense. 

Keep this in mind: The Nationals are tied for first place and on pace for 93 wins, yet they rank seventh in runs, ninth in doubles, 10th in average, ninth in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage and ninth in OPS in the 15-team NL. A good Murphy bolsters the hell out of those figures. 

Let's keep an eye on him. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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