If you remember tuning into a Mariners game and saw some guy doing a cartwheel in the dugout, this is your guy.
Tom Murphy got his first real chance in the big leagues with the Mariners this season after being traded from the San Francisco Giants. He is an above-average catcher with great defensive qualities and some power in his bat.
In Murphy’s first year with Seattle, he slashed .273/.324/.535 with 18 home runs and 40 RBIs in 75 games. He played a big role in his first “full season” in the Major Leagues. He led the Mariners in WAR (2.6), Runs better than average (16), and Slugging (.535).
One of his biggest issues was striking out. He was rung up 87 times in 281 plate appearances (31% of the time). He reminds me a lot of a traditional power hitter that swings for the fences and commonly strikes out when he doesn’t make contact.
He was deployed into a platoon role with fellow Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez. The combination of right and left-handed hitting catchers with power is something unique that the Mariners have.
Murphy led the team in defensive WAR (0.9) and Narvaez led the team in offensive WAR (3.1). The two combined for 40 home runs and 95 RBIs.
Narvaez is seen more as the hitting catcher while Murphy has shown more quality on the defensive side. It will be interesting to see how Scott Servais uses them in 2020.
Defensively, Murphy ranks as one of the best. He led the Mariners in Runs from Fielding with four. When it comes to framing pitches, Murphy is able to convert low ball pitches into strikes.
Murphy’s versatility even allowed him to pitch in three games (granted the Mariners were losing) where he was able to strike out two batters. For anyone wondering, Murphy throws a Fourseam fastball around 88 mph and mixes in a Slider at 81 mph.
I expect the Mariners to keep both catchers for next season as they made a great one-two punch against opposing pitchers this year.
I am hoping to see a lot more “Tom-Bombs” and cartwheels in the dugout as the Mariners look to build on some of the positives they took away this season.