Matt Olson thinks Braves have best catching duo in baseball

Braves Olson

The Braves have All-Stars at most positions, but they have two at catcher. No, Sean Murphy hasn’t been elected to an All-Star game yet, but he’s well on his way after winning a Gold Glove in 2021. He joins Travis d’Arnaud in Atlanta, forming arguably the best catching duo in baseball, but Matt Olson doesn’t think it’s even arguable:

Sean Murphy had a breakout campaign for Oakland in 2022. Defensively, he might be the best in the business, but everyone should be excited to see what he can do in a more hitter-friendly Truist park with a loaded Braves lineup around him. He was already an above-average offensive player, and I expect those numbers to rise.

d’Arnaud had a career year last year, playing great defense behind the plate for the Braves and hitting .268 with 18 homers, earning NL All-Star honors. He obliterated southpaws last year to the tune of a .346 average and .946 OPS, so expect him to DH in those situations.

The Blue Jays’ tandem of Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk is the only one that could potentially put up more WAR. Will Smith and Austin Barnes is in the conversation as well, but I see the Braves duo as superior and expect them to eclipse 6.0 WAR. Here are Chase’s respective projections for their 2023 stats:

  • Sean Murphy’s 2023 Stat Predictions: .245/.327/.440, .767 OPS, 20 home runs, 81 RBIs, 4.0 fWAR
  • Travis d’Arnaud’s 2023 Stats: .270/.325/.470, .795 OPS, 19 homers, 57 RBIs, 2.5 fWAR

I expect Murphy to take about 70% of the starts behind the plate for the Braves. The Gold Glove winner is younger, more durable, a more productive hitter, and a better defender. Braves Country hasn’t seen a catcher as defensively talented as Sean Murphy in a while. Despite d’Arnaud being more than reliable in that facet of the game, Murphy rivals JT Realmuto as the best defender at the position.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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