Sean Murphy can be one of the impact bats they are looking for
We’ll get to Murphy’s defense in a bit, but one of the biggest concerns of Cardinals fans this off-season has been upgrading the offense around Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. On the season, Murphy slashed .250/.332/.426 with 18 HR and 66 RBI for the Athletics. He posted a 122 wRC+ which was 4th among all catchers with at least 500 PA.
But as many have noted, Murphy turned it up another notch from the month of June on in 2022. From June 1st on, he upped his play to a 137 wRC+, making him 37% above a league average hitter, let alone the average catcher in baseball. For context, the only catchers who posted a higher wRC+ on the entire season were Danny Jansen and William Contreras, who did so in less games, and are far worse defenders than Murphy. The underlying numbers show that his success is more than sustainable.
According to his Baseball Savant page, the 28-year old’s compared similarly to Carlos Correa, J.T. Realmuto, and Francisco Lindor at the plate last year. Correa is about to cash in on one of the largest free agency contracts in history, Lindor returned to his elite form in 2022, and Realmuto is the consensus best catcher in baseball.
Murphy has a track record beyond 2022 as well. He struggled some behind the plate in 2021 with a 100 wRC+, but managed a 136 wRC+ in 60 PA in 2019 and 133 wRC+ in 140 PA in 2020. Last year was Murphy’s second full season in the big leagues, and he established himself as a premier hitter not just at the catcher position, but compared to the best hitters in the game.
Murphy could more than handle providing protection for the Cardinals’ MVP duo in 2023. Not only does he improve their production from one of the league’s worst at catcher in 2022, but they do so through a bat who can truly supplement the Cardinals’ top talent.