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Tom Murphy started hot on his call-up but soon lost his spot

Murphy started off red hot in his first stint with the club, but quickly cooled off to finish 2018

You’re reading the 2018 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the season had by every player to play for the Rockies in 2018. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the least amount of rWAR and end up with the player with the most.

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No. 31, Tom Murphy (-0.3 rWAR)

The Rockies began the season with two catchers on their roster. As the year progressed, they called up Tom Murphy from Albuquerque twice — once from June 12 to August 7 and again on September 1. They also traded Jerry Vasto for Drew Butera on August 31.

At the time of his initial recall from Triple-A, Murphy was hitting .289 with 32 extra base hits — 16 home runs (which ranked second in the Pacific Coast League at the time), 14 doubles, and two triples. Through much of his first stint with the Rockies in 2018, Murphy seemed to emerge as the Rockies primary catcher above Iannetta and Wolters, particularly with his offensive power.

In June, Murphy started red hot, hitting .310/.326/.429 in 12 games, but in July slumped to a line of .184/.205/.447 in 15 games before being optioned to Triple-A again in August. In his second stint in September, he hit .200/.200/.200 in six games and finished 2018 hitting .226/.250/.387 with seven doubles, one triple, and seven home runs in 37 games.

With all of his offensive prowess, his defense left something to be desired. He recorded five total errors, and two of those were costly catcher’s interference calls. This lead to diminished playing time and ultimately (in August) an option back down to Albuquerque.

Tom Murphy is really good in the minor leagues but has struggled to find consistency in the majors. Much like Trevor Story (at least before this season) he has at times struggled to put both sides of his game together, particularly defensively. Catcher is the most important defensive position on the baseball diamond, so to have a struggling catcher can spell a struggling ball club. If Murphy can find a way to combine his usually strong offense with good defense, he should have a better year in 2019. The question becomes whether the Rockies give him another shot at the big league level. As of now, he will be competing once again with Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters for a roster spot.