Key Sean Murphy adjustment in 2024 could lead to an even better season

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game One
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game One / Elsa/GettyImages

When the Atlanta Braves acquired Sean Murphy before the 2023 season, they knew they were getting one of the best catchers in baseball. While the cost to acquire him was significant, Murphy was making that deal look like an absolute heist in the first half of 2023 when he posted a .306/.400/.599 slash line and appeared poised to make a run at the NL MVP.

However, Murphy faded badly in the second half. In addition to only putting up a .585 OPS during the back half of 2023, he dealt with a hamstring injury that certainly didn't help the cause. As it turns out, there may have been a cause for a lot of Murphy's issues.

Our friends over at Battery Power recently did a post mortem on Braves Fest where a lot of interesting nuggets from the event were shared. No nugget may have been more significant than Murphy's comments at Braves Fest where he revealed that he was not used to playing as much as he was in the kind of heat felt in Atlanta during the summer and that is was a challenge to make that adjustment.

If Sean Murphy can beat the heat, he could put on a show in 2024

All of a sudden, Murphy's issues make a lot more sense. Murphy had to play a lot in the first half with Travis d'Arnaud out with a concussion and when you combine that heavy workload with difficulties in staying hydrated and being used to how hot it is at Truist during summer time, it is no wonder that fatigue set in for him.

The heat could also be an explanation for his hamstring issue as dehydration and cramping isn't that uncommon in hot conditions even for those that have played a lot in that sort of environment. Max Fried famously has famously sweaty hands and the heat has, at times, exacerbated his issues with blisters during his time with the Braves.

Assuming Murphy and the Braves have a plan in place to help Murphy get used to the heat and keep him on the field, we could be in store for a special season out of him. Even with his production cratering in the second half last year, Murphy was still second among catchers in all of baseball in 2023 with 4.5 fWAR behind the guy that was traded to acquire him, William Contreras. If he can just consistently produce at the plate all season long, watch out.

There is a small cause for concern, though. Murphy is now under contract with the Braves through at least 2028. With Travis d'Arnaud's career winding down, the Braves need Murphy to be able handle playing in the heat for the foreseeable future. If he continues to struggle in the hot summer months, that extension of his may not look like the bargain it once did.

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