Is this the Sean Murphy breakout season we have been waiting for?
By David Hill
It has been a matter of time before Sean Murphy broke out. The Oakland A’s catcher has consistently rated well in terms of batted ball metrics, but the results have not been there in the counting stats. He has hit the ball hard, only to see those well struck balls turn into outs.
The question has been when this would happen, and if Murphy would be a member of the organization when it did. With Tyler Soderstrom in the system, and the acquisition of Shea Langeliers as part of the Matt Olson return, Murphy was considered a possible trade candidate as questions about his bat began to circulate.
Sean Murphy showing potential with the bat
Murphy may be answering those questions. He is still hitting the ball hard, as 94.3 MPH average exit velocity is in the top eight percent of the league. His 65.2% hard hit rate is in the top four percent of the majors. His 114 MPH max exit velocity is in the 99th percentile. Yes, it is early and he may not continue those rates, but it is an impressive start to the season.
The difference is that the results are finally showing up on the stat page. Heading into Sunday’s action, Murphy has nine hits in his 39 plate appearances, with four doubles, a triple, and two homers. Both home runs have been smoked as well as Murphy is certainly putting a charge into the ball.
There are some concerns. Murphy has struck out 13 times already this season, and catchers do wear down as the year goes on. He will not be hitting the ball as hard all year at such a consistent rate. However, with three catchers on the roster, Murphy has also been in the lineup every day as he has been able to slot in as the A’s designated hitter as well.
That arrangement is likely to continue during the season. Murphy will still get plenty of time in the lineup, but it will be through a partial day off as the A’s DH. As that happens, they will minimize the wear and tear that results from being a catcher. The breakout season may finally happen.
Sean Murphy is showing his potential with the bat in the early going. His long awaited breakout season may finally be happening.