SEAN Michael MURPHY
Nickname:   N/A Position:   C
Home: N/A Team:   BRAVES
Height: 6' 3" Bats:   R
Weight: 230 Throws:   R
DOB: 10/4/1994 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 12  
Birth City: Dayton, OH
Draft: A's #3 - 2016 - Out of Wright State Univ. (OH)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG AVG
2016 NYP VERMONT   22 76 10 18 1 0 2 7 1 0 9 12 .318 .329 .237
2016 AZL AZL-A's   1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
2017 TL MIDLAND   53 191 25 40 7 0 4 22 0 0 21 34 .288 .309 .209
2017 CAL STOCKTON   45 165 22 49 11 0 9 26 0 0 11 33 .343 .527 .297
2018 PCL NASHVILLE   3 8 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2 .500 .250 .250
2018 AZL MESA   2 5 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .400 .200
2018 TL MIDLAND   68 257 51 74 26 2 8 43 3 0 23 47 .358 .498 .288
2019 IL LEHIGH VALLEY   1 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 .400 .250 .250
2019 AZL MESA   9 28 8 6 2 0 1 1 0 0 4 4 .313 .393 .214
2019 PCL LAS VEGAS   31 120 25 37 6 1 10 30 0 1 15 31 .386 .625 .308
2019 AL ATHLETICS   20 53 14 13 5 0 4 8 0 0 6 16 .333 .566 .245
2020 AL ATHLETICS $209.00 43 116 21 27 5 0 7 14 0 0 24 37 .364 .457 .233
2021 AL ATHLETICS   119 393 47 85 23 0 17 59 0 0 40 114 .306 .406 .216
2022 AL ATHLETICS   148 537 67 134 37 2 18 66 1 0 56 124 .332 .426 .250
Personal
  • In 2013, Murphy graduated from Centerville High School in Ohio. 

  • When Sean was growing up, he was just too small for most sports. He could never do much in football or basketball, so he spent most of his time working hard to become a decent catcher.

    Murphy entered his junior year of high school in Dayton, Ohio, at 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds, but then he added five inches in a year and hit .537 to earn all-state honors.

    Wright State coach Greg Lovelady invited Murphy to walk on to the team, and he responded not just by earning the starting job but by being named the Horizon League freshman of the year.

    Three years later, Murphy had grown from the runt of the team to a premier prospect, and the Athletics grabbed him in the third round of the 2016 draft.

    “I still don’t grow any facial hair,” said Murphy, 22. “I don’t have to shave. I feel like I’m just coming into my body now. I was awkward in college.”

    Murphy’s father Mike also experienced a late growth spurt, adding eight inches in college. He reached Triple-A as a pitcher.

  • In 2016, Murphy got drafted by the A's (see Transactions below). 

  • In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Murphy as the 20th-best prospect in the A's organization. He was ranked at #8 in the winter before 2018 spring training. He moved up to #3 in the spring of 2019. And he stayed at #3 a year later, early in 2020.

  • July 2018: Murphy represented the Athletics in the All-Star Futures game.
  • Sean sat around patiently for three days as he waited to get his first taste of big league action after joining the A’s on September 1, 2019, as a September callup. That chance finally came on September 4, and he wasted no time making an impact.

    Murphy provided a glimpse into what the A’s believe is a bright future behind the dish for him, showing off his power in his Major League debut with a solo blast as his first career hit in a 4-0 victory over the Angels.

    The home run came in the fifth inning off Angels reliever Jake Jewell on a 0-1 pitch to put the A’s ahead by two. Murphy belted the fastball left over the heart of the plate at 105.8 mph off the bat, the second-hardest hit ball of the night by either club, and drove it over the Coliseum’s high wall in right-center for a projected 409 feet, according to Statcast.

    “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” Murphy said. “But once we settled into the game, and of course a home run helps, I felt much better out there. It’s the same game I’ve been playing, so nothing new.”

    While his group of supporters, which included parents Mike and Marge, his girlfriend, and brother-in-law all losing their minds in excitement from their seats behind the A’s dugout, Murphy was even-keeled. He calmly chewed his piece of bubble gum with a straight face as he rounded the bases. 

    “I think he was pretty excited, he just doesn’t show it,” A's manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s calm in his demeanor and stoic. He wants to be that captain. But I think he was going crazy inside.”

    It should come as no surprise that Murphy’s first hit left the yard. This just continues a trend he began this year at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he bashed 10 home runs in just 120 at-bats, putting together a whopping home-run-per-fly-ball rate of 31.3 percent.

    “That’s not the last time you’ll see him hit a home run to [the opposite field] like that,” Melvin said. “He’s got power all the way around the field. In the last couple of years, he really developed the power. He’s a big kid with great leverage. You look at his exit velos and they’re off the charts. I’m glad he got off to a good start.” 

    In catching the full shutout, Murphy became the first A’s catcher to do so in his Major League debut since Jack Lapp on Sept. 11, 1908.  “Hit a homer and catch a shutout. Not a bad start,” Melvin said. “I think he’ll probably tell you he’s just as proud of the shutout as he is the homer.” 

    “I’m happy about the shutout and happy we won,” Murphy said. “Stepping into a ballclub that’s competing and has to win every night, it’s important that I go out and do my job to win. I could have gone 0-for, but as long as we won, I would have been happy.”  (Gallegos - mlb.com - 9/4/19)

  • 2019 Season: Murphy was called up on Sept. 1. He slashed a line of .245/.333/.556. He came out of the gate scorching hot, showing his power to all directions of the field.

    Known for his defense when first making his way into the minors, Murphy developed quite the bat in his rise through the system and became one of the top catching prospects in the pipelines. Possessing an absolute cannon behind the plate, Murphy made players stealing think twice. 

    Murphy put together four home runs in his first 18 at-bats over seven games.  He sprays the ball all over the field and has defenses not able to gauge him because of that ability. (Justin Hickey - Fansided - Oct. 2019)

  • 2020 Season: Murphy had a solid rookie campaign, producing a .233/.364/.457 batting line in his 140 plate appearances, hitting seven homers and five doubles. His 131 OPS+ led the A’s as he showed the potential to be a key part of their future.

    As respectable as that rookie campaign had been, Murphy truly took off over the final month of the season. He produced a .277/.424/.638 batting line in his 59 plate appearances, hitting five of his home runs in that time frame.

    Murphy’s batted ball profile shows that his strong finish to the year was not a fluke. He ranked in the 91st percentile in both hard hit rate and exit velocity, with the ball leaving his bat at an average of 92.2 MPH. His 17.1% walk rate was truly elite, ranking in the 97th percentile. When Murphy did swing, he made excellent contact, with a 49.4% hard hit rate and a 12.7% barrel percentage.

    Those metrics would seemingly indicate that even better days are ahead for the A’s catcher. His slow foot speed will likely be a hindrance to his batting average on balls in play, but his .278 BAbip was still reasonably solid. If he becomes more aggressive at the plate in the strike zone, Murphy could be a star in the making. (David Hill - Dec. 31., 2020)

  • 2021 Season: He slugged 17 homers, a mark bested by only nine catchers. He also smacked 23 doubles. Additionally, his 59 RBI ranked ninth at the position. In short, those marks were not the issue. His 47 runs ranked 17th, and the .216 BA was atrocious. Apparently, it is tough to score runs when one does not get on base.

    Anyway, Murphy’s .257 BABIP was down compared to his previous two seasons (.273 and .278). He ranked 19th out of the 24 backstops who had at least 350 PA in 2021. For reference, his .273 mark from 2019 would have landed him 17th of 22, had he qualified. In 2020, he finished seventh of 22.

    If you scope out the 30 catchers from 2019 to 2021 who managed at least 600 PA, Murphy ranks upper third (13th) in both fly ball rate and pull rate. He does so while ranking 18th in hard hit rate (34.2%), and I question this being a good thing given that he plays half his games in Oakland. It’s not rocket science, but a cursory glance at his home/away splits confirms my assumptions.

    A career .228/.333/459 slash line and .231 ISO on the road is pretty solid for a catcher. But at home, Murphy’s performance dips dramatically, to a .210/.295/.369 slash and a .159 ISO. His 2021 numbers mirrored this reality, except his road numbers fell a bit (.317 OBP, .204 ISO) and Murphy didn’t have wiggle room given his home struggles in 2021 (.194/.282/.347 and .153 ISO).

    On the plus side, Murphy’s walk rate (8.9%), ISO (.188), wOBA (.309), and wRC+ (99) were all pretty solid, especially for a catcher. It should be noted that Murphy’s first two years were abbreviated—he had a 20-game cup of coffee in 2019, followed by a pandemic-shortened 43-game season in 2020. So 2021 could be as simple as things evening out for the young catcher. If so, his batted ball and Statcast data are encouraging.

    Murphy’s line drive, fly ball, and pull rates all increased from 2020 levels (his larger sample compared to 2019). His hard hit rate (42.2%) and launch angle (15.4 degrees) were still solid. His 112.8 MPH max exit velocity was the best mark of his career.

    One big change was a drop in exit velocity on fly balls and line drives—his 93.5 MPH mark in 2021 was tied for 29th, a far cry from his 97.1 MPH mark in 2020. That’s also pretty damning when you consider his unfriendly home park environment. If those balls in the air aren’t becoming homers, they’re obviously becoming outs in the big leagues, and his average is going to take a hit.

    Murphy’s average hit distance was steady, 174 feet in 2021 and 173 in 2020. His average homer was 411 feet, short of his 2020 mark (418) but still fifth-best in the MLB among catchers (min. 50 BBE). His plate discipline, too, was eerily similar to 2019. His swing rate of 47.6% was in line with the MLB average and similar to 2019. His 12.2% swinging strike rate nearly matched 2019’s (12.1%). He wasn’t far off from the 11.2% MLB average—again, not bad for a catcher. And despite swinging far more than he did in 2020 (only 40.9%), he increased his zone swing rate to 69.3% and decreased his chase rate to 31.6% (compared to 2019 levels, at least).  (Heath Capps@HeathCapps - Nov 23, 2021)

  •  2022 Season: Stats: 612 PA, .250/.332/.426, .331 wOBA, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 122 wRC+, 5.1 fWAR

    2023 Steamer Projections: 563 PA, .245/.327/.435, .332 wOBA, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 112 wRC+, 4.1 fWAR

    Since becoming a full-time catcher in 2020, Murphy ranks second in fWAR (10.0), sixth in home runs (42), fifth in wRC+ (115), seventh in wOBA (.326) and ninth in defensive runs saved (13) among backstops.

    While there have only been two All-Star games during his MLB career, Murphy probably should have been at one of them. 

     Now that he plays in the National League, however, Murphy may have more competition behind the plate. Between J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith and brothers Willson and William Contreras, an All-Star nod will be tough to come by. 

     Murphy’s second half may provide the blueprint for an All-Star in the making.

     In the final 65 games of 2022, Murphy posted a 140 wRC+, fueled by some better swing decisions at the plate. He increased his walk rate from 6.8% in the first half to 12.1% in the second half, and he dropped his strikeout rate from 22.1% to 17.9%. The results? A .363 OBP and a .449 slugging percentage.

    Murphy hits the ball extremely hard, and in the second half of last season, he improved his plate discipline and dropped his outside-the-zone swing percentage.  (Zach Worden - Jan 17, 2023)

    TRANSACTIONS

  • June 2016: The A's chose Murphy in the third round, out of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He signed for $753,100, via the intense urging of area scout Rich Sparks.

  • Dec 12, 2022: In a three-way, nine-player swap among the A's, Braves, and Brewers:

    The A’s got: OF Esteury Ruiz from Brewers (club's No. 8-ranked prospect), C Manny Piña from Braves, LHP Kyle Muller from the Braves (club's No. 1-ranked prospect), RHP Freddy Tarnok from Braves (club's No. 6-ranked prospect), and RHP Royber Salinas from Braves (club's No. 18-ranked prospect).

    The Braves got: C Sean Murphy from the A’s.  Murphy is under team control for each of the next three seasons before being eligible for free agency after 2025. 

    The Brewers got: C William Contreras from Braves, RHP Joel Payamps from A’s, and RHP Justin Yeager from Braves.

  • Dec 28, 2022: Murphy signed a six-year, $73 million extension. The recently acquired catcher’s deal includes a $15 million club option with no buyout for 2029. All told, the Braves could end up giving Murphy a seven-year deal worth $88 million. 

Batting
  • Murphy has solid bat speed which provides some above-average 55 grade home run power. He is a strong guy with a simple swing and not much of a load. But with his super strength he can hit ball over the center field fence or to his pull side. 

    While Murphy has always been known for his glove work, he has the chance to be an impact player on both sides of the ball. He continues to make a ton of contact with his short right-handed swing, keeping his strikeouts low. That's all the more impressive because of his considerable power, which could eventually be above-average at his peak. 

    Murphy works the middle of the field with a compact swing. He isn’t afraid to work deep counts and draw walks and shows a good understanding of his strengths.

    Sean's glove plays ahead of his bat, which is a question mark. His hit tool has developed into a 50 grade. And he is developing 55-60 power as he learns to incorporate his lower half. (Spring, 2020)

  • Murphy's primary value is in his excellent work behind the plate. Anything he gives you with his bat is gravy.

    “He can backspin some balls and hit gap to gap,” A's farm director Keith Lieppman said in 2018. “It’s just an evolving process of a really good player getting accustomed to professional baseball.”

  • 2017 season: The A's No. 11 prospect got off to a strong start in 2017, hitting .297 through 45 games with Stockton. But he struggled once he was promoted to Midland, batting just .209 in 53 games.

  • 2019 season: Despite injuries to his other hamate (2018) and his knee (2019), he still managed to climb the ladder, go to the Futures Game in 2018, and reach the big leagues in 2019, including earning a spot on the Wild Card roster.

  • Top rookie Statcast performers of 2020:

    Longest Home Run: Sean Murphy, A’s—464 ft.

    Murphy and Luis Robert (458 feet), the top two names on the rookie home-run distance leaderboard, both showcased their huge power during Game 3 of the A’s-White Sox Wild Card matchup.

    Luis Robert’s mammoth blast was a 487-foot solo shot in the second inning. Murphy’s two-run blast in the fourth inning traveled 424 feet and was key in fueling the A’s comeback victory. Hitting long home runs was standard for Murphy during the regular season, as four of the rookie catcher’s seven home runs traveled at least 420 feet. And all but two of his dingers cleared 400 feet

Fielding
  • Sean is an elite defender with outstanding lateral movement. He is very quick back there. He has excellent receiving and blocking skills, with outstanding athleticism.

    “I think Murph is unbelievable back there in keeping guys off balance and knowing where to pitch guys, and where not to,” A's righthander Chris Bassitt said in 2020.

    Bassitt said he does not like to think much when he is pitching, which makes him a perfect match with the always-thinking Murphy.

    “Murph calls great games. I owe a lot of my success to him.”

    “He’s a big guy (6-foot-3), with a stable base that allows him to catch pitches at the bottom of the zone without taking them out of the zone,” A’s farm director Ed Sprague Jr. said. “His catching metrics are some of the best in the league. (Catching instructor) Marcus Jensen has done a great job working with him and continuing to improve his blocking.” (Casey Tefertiller - Baseball America - Nov., 2020)

  • Even when he's not hitting, Murphy can make a huge impact behind the plate. He has great hands and one of the strongest arms of any position player prospect in the game. He's agile with excellent footwork and pitchers love to throw to him because of his receiving and game-calling skills. Assuming health, he has all the tools to become a standout big league regular. 

    In addition to his work ethic, Murphy’s leadership with his pitching staff draws rave reviews.

    His defense is considered exceptional. Scouts rank his arm as a 70. And the rest of his work behind the plate is also considered well above-average, with at least a 60 grade for his defense. (Spring, 2020)

  • Murphy's arm is his best tool.

    Runners don’t often test Murphy, whose double-plus arm and consistent sub-2 second pop times draw consistent praise.

  • This kid has a Gold Glove or three in his future.

  • He blocks balls well.

  • And he works well with his pitching staff and knows how to call a game.

  • Sean presents a quiet target and does a good job of framing pitches.

  • Murphy has no holes defensively. He displays very good lateral movement—side-to-side. He has impressive footwork.

    “He can really throw, and he’s not a bad receiver,” Athletics' special advisor Grady Fuson said. “He’s got a ton of power and strength to work with. The first thing that jumps out at you is his arm strength. I haven’t seen a ball come out of a catcher’s arm like that since (former A’s prospect) Miguel Olivo.”

    Area scout Rich Sparks signed Murphy, who made a big impression with his work and improvement at instructional league.

    “He’s still developing and acquiring his baseball instincts,” Fuson said. “That’s what we look for.”

    “He was everything then that you see now,” A's scouting director Eric Kubota said. “We thought he would be a plus defender, but catching is the hardest position to evaluate. He has certainly exceeded our expectations.”

    Three years later, Murphy has blossomed.

    “His defensive skills are off the chart,” farm director Keith Lieppman said. “He was a real steal at where we were able to get him.”

    Some scouts rank his arm as a legitimate 80 and project his defense as 70-grade tool. 

  • Sean won't have to hit much, because of his outstanding tools as a catcher. But he will have to hit something or be a back-up catcher in the Majors.

  • Murphy has one of the strongest arms of any catching prospect in the game and while base-stealers had a little more success against him in 2019, he’s still thrown out 32.7 percent of baserunners attempting to steal.  Murphy is more athletic than many backstops, and his agility helps make him an outstanding blocker behind the plate. He works extremely well with pitchers and is graded very highly on his game-calling skills.  (Mayo - mlb.com - 9/2/19)

  • In 2019, Murphy appeared in only 18 big league games behind the plate, but he still managed to record two of the season’s hardest-thrown balls on caught-stealing attempts.

  • One of Sean’s biggest strengths is his cannon of an arm behind the plate. In 2019, Murphy's throw on a caught-stealing of Adalberto Mondesi was clocked at 87.4 mph, the A's hardest throw on a caught-stealing since Statcast started tracking the statistic in 2015.

    GOLD GLOVER

  • In 2021, Murphy won his first Gold Glove as the best fielding catcher in the AL.
Running
  • Murphy runs well for a catcher, which should allow him to take the extra base when needed.
Career Injury Report
  • 2016: Murphy broke the hamate bone in his left hand while in college. While in the hospital, Sean contracted the MRSA virus, a staph infection which cost him about six weeks after signing with the A's.

    Sean also missed time with inflammation in his hand as a result of the scar tissue from his hamate surgery.

  • July 9-August 27, 2018: Sean was on the DL after he fractured the hook of the hamate on his right hand. Murphy had fractured the hamate in his left hand during college.

  • May 1-July 24, 2019: Murphy was on the IL.

  • August 2019: Sean spent another stint on the IL.

  • Oct. 10, 2019: Murphy had successful surgery on his left knee at the Gateway Surgical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The surgery was performed by Dr. Thomas Carter and involved a lateral meniscal debridement procedure on Murphy’s left knee. Murphy was expected to be ready for 2020 Spring Training.

  • March 2021: Murphy was late to spring training after undergoing two surgeries after sustaining a collapsed lung during the offseason.