Oakland A’s: Sean Murphy could take the next step in 2021

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Sean Murphy #12 of the Oakland Athletics bats during the game against the Chicago White Sox at RingCentral Coliseum on September 30, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the White Sox 5-3. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Sean Murphy #12 of the Oakland Athletics bats during the game against the Chicago White Sox at RingCentral Coliseum on September 30, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the White Sox 5-3. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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Sean Murphy showed a great deal of promise in his rookie year. He could take the next step for the Oakland A’s in 2021.

The Oakland A’s had high hopes for Sean Murphy heading into the 2020 season. He was considered one of the top catching prospects in the game, a potential future Gold Glove catcher with a powerful bat that could develop into a perennial All Star. He showed that potential in his brief trial in 2019, producing a solid .245/.333/.566 batting line with four homers and five doubles in 60 plate appearances.

With that debut, Murphy was expected to slide seamlessly into the starting role in 2020. However, that did not happen, as his bat faltered out of the gate. Through the quarter mark of the season, Murphy had produced a .173/.300/.265 batting line with just one homer.

However, those stats were somewhat misleading. Murphy was hitting the ball hard, with an impressive barrel rate and exit velocity. Those drives were simply finding the defense instead of falling in.

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Murphy’s luck changed over the final part of the season. From August 12 on, he produced a .256/.390/.537 batting line, with six homers and five doubles in 100 plate appearances. Murphy also showed an excellent eye, drawing 18 walks with just 24 strikeouts.

That performance in his final 100 plate appearances was much closer to what should have been expected. Murphy continued to hit the ball hard throughout the season, ranking in the 91st percentile in both hard hit percentage and exit velocity. Murphy was also in the 83rd percentile in barrel rate, and was in the 97th percentile in terms of his walk rate. The production is going to come.

That could come as soon as 2021. Murphy is seemingly on the cusp of becoming one of the top hitting catchers in the league, combining a strong batting eye with excellent pop. He should be a building block, and a perennial All Star candidate, for years to come.

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That should start in 2021. Sean Murphy seems to be on the verge of becoming a star for the Oakland A’s.

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