Sean Murphy is an elite defensive catcher
The Cardinals value defense behind the plate, and rightfully so. Molina proved over the years just how valuable it is to have an elite presence behind the plate, and that is one of the biggest concerns of both fans and the front office for 2023. How does the team replace what Molina did defensively and for the Cardinals pitching staff? Well, Murphy happens to be one of, if not the best, in the business today.
According to FanGraphs, Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) measures a player’s defensive value relative to league average at their own position. Average is rated at a 0, with +20 being excellent, +12 being great, +4 landing above average, and anything below 0 as below average or just plain bad. Only five catchers logged more than 500 PA last year, with Murphy and Realmuto being the only two players rated as “great” defenders with 15 DEF and 18 DEF respectively.
Murphy won the 2021 American League Gold Glove and had an argument once again in 2022 after maintaining his high level of play defensively while playing some of the most games of any catcher. Many of today’s catchers settle for part-time play behind the plate, while Murphy caught in over 70% of his club’s games.
Murphy’s all-around game led him to posting the 3rd highest fWAR in all of baseball in 2022, just behind Realmuto and Adley Rutschman. Murphy is one of the best talents at catcher right now, and will remain that way for years to come.