The Atlanta Braves have prided themselves on having reliable catching duos throughout the team’s storied history. In 2023 the duo could be the best yet with Sean Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud. While catcher wasn’t a primary need for the team the opportunity presented itself and GM Alex Anthopoulos pounced. it was a hefty price sure, and fans weren’t happy to lose fan favorite William Contreras, but the sting seems to be fading with Murphy impressing early in camp in every aspect of the game and getting comfortable with the pitching staff.
When the move happened my initial thought was why? Take the feelings out of it this makes all the sense in the world with MLB rule changes with pitch clock, pickoff rule, and even bigger bases a premiere defensive catcher and leader behind the dish is a must. Murphy already has a gold glove and last season ranked second throwing out runners and had an insane pop time (from glove to base) of 1.89 seconds. The numbers are great, but I think the unspoken and an aspect that can’t be measured that we are going to learn to love is his leadership helping a pitcher get though a game he worked with a variety of different guys during his time with the Oakland A’s and adapted seamlessly.
With the pitch clock coming, its vital that pitcher and catcher get in a rhythm quickly Murphy is perfect for this and with mix of veterans and young guns on staff it is going to fun to watch the chemistry build. Let’s not forget the other side of the ball. Offensively, he ranked in the top five in most offensive categories among catchers. Additionally, he hit 272 on the road away from the cavernous Oakland coliseum.
The other question I had was does this have the potential to be another Freddie Freeman vs Matt Olsen situation? My answer is no. Of course there’s pressure to preform there always is, but Murphy isn’t replacing a franchise icon and he has a back of the bubble gum card to fall back on. Whereas, William Contreras was a fan favorite yes, but he is looking to build the consistency that Murphy has. Thus, Murphy can just be a guy and not the guy. Also having the contract extension and the stability that comes with that and playing with guys you already know doesn’t hurt in the least.