Starting Catcher: Tom Murphy
This probably isn’t much of a shock to you. There was a brief debate between Murphy and one other catcher (whom you’ll see when we discuss the bench) and we agreed that Murphy and the other catcher (seriously, you know who it is) would be a part of a tandem rather than a clear 1A vs 1B. But Murphy’s defense gave him the overall edge in this debate, so he will start in our 7-game series.
Murphy is one of Dipoto’s best overall finds for the Seattle Mariners. A former top prospect turned AAAA player was acquired by Dipoto via trade on March 29th of last season. And while he has only appeared in 75 games, it can be argued that he had the best single-season for a Mariners’ catcher in club history.
He hit .273/.324/.535 in 281 plate appearances, with 18 home runs and 40 RBI. On top of his stellar offensive output, Murphy also showed great framing skills and the ability to work with both veterans and young guns alike. Murphy is also well above-average in blocking and calls a quality game.
The ability to earn your pitcher’s trust comes from putting in the work behind the scenes and nobody works harder than Murphy. In addition, Murphy is actually a great athlete, which can’t hurt. Sure, he doesn’t have the strongest arm or quickest release, but the power and framing are both well above-average, so we will take what we can get. Overall, having a catcher who is an above-average framer is a plus, and having one who can provide any offensive value is another.
It isn’t hard to imagine how Murphy put up a 2.8 bWAR in just half a season. The question for 2020 and beyond is whether or not he can do it again? But since we only have the 75 game sample size with the Mariners, this was a no-brainer for us to put him on the squad.