We did not get to see Tom Murphy often this past season. He backed up Cal Raleigh as catcher and then went on the injured list with a strain to his left thumb. He subsequently fractured his thumb and this prevented him from returning to the team in September. He is now a free agent, and we will see which teams are interested in him. I hope, however, that Seattle locks him up for a two or three-year contract.
This past season was Tom Murphy’s fourth with Seattle. Before playing with the Mariners, Murphy spent several seasons with Colorado.
Switching off With Cal Raleigh is Ideal for Both
The catcher is involved in every single pitch as opposed to other position players who get involved when the ball is hit fairly. The catcher not only catches the ball; he suggests pitches to the pitcher, signals when an opponent could be caught out at base, sends balls to base for an out during a steal, and interacts with the umpire. He works closely with the pitchers in evaluating the opponent. One of the most important roles the catcher plays is conferring with the pitcher when the pitcher seems nervous, is throwing odd pitches, or otherwise would benefit from some thoughts from a player who knows him well.
This is a lot for one player.
We saw Murphy switch off with Raleigh, but Raleigh was the regular catcher and Murphy was the backup. Murphy is not only a great catcher, however, he is also a successful batter.
Murphy Has Series Batting Skills
Murphy had the highest batting average of all Mariners players in the 2023 season: .290. The next in line was J.P. Crawford with a BA of .266. This was not a new development in 2023. In 2019, Murphy's BA was .290 and it was .303 in 2022 when he was healthy.
Murphy had only 145 at-bats this season, so to compare his statistics, I needed to multiply the stats by 4. If he had had the regular number of at-bats over a season, he might have had 168 hits, 48 doubles, 32 home runs, 68 RBIs, and 40 walks. Only Rodríguez had more hits with 180 over the season. Murphy would have exceeded the number of doubles that Rodríguez had, tied the number of home runs, but Rodríguez would have exceeded his number of walks.
Overall, Murphy’s OPS (On-base percentage + slugging percentage) was .873. The next Seattle players’ statistics h .818.
When he was not catching, Murphy could be the Designated Hitter and Raleigh could be the DH when Murphy was catching.
In Summary . . .
Tom Murphy has indeed had his share of injuries. He spent most of 2022 on the injured list which is how Cal Raleigh came to be the regular catcher. In 2023, he left this season in August with the thumb injury. Hopefully, these concerns are behind him.
The Mariners need to improve their hitting. Tom Murphy is an excellent batter as his statistics show. In addition to partnering with Cal Raleigh, he could be a designated hitter for the team.