Who Am I?
Height: 6′ 3″
Bats left, throws right (He’s a catcher… we’ll allow it.)
Nickname: “Fun Police”
How Did I Get Here?
McCann was originally drafted in the second round by Atlanta in 2002. He debuted in the majors at age 21 in 2005, and remained with the Braves through 2013. After this, he signed a 6 year, $100M contract with the Yankees. He was traded to Houston in November 2016 for Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman.
Contract Status: McCann will earn $17M this season and next, although the Yankees are paying $5.5M of this in each season. McCann has a $15M team option for 2019, when he will be 35, that vests automatically if all of the following occur:
- McCann has 1,000 total plate appearances between 2017 and 2018;
- He catches 90 games in 2018; and
- He is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2018 season.
Why Am I Here?
Despite all of the positive remarks about Evan Gattis’s catching prowess, let’s be clear: McCann is the team’s primary catcher. Management decided that McCann’s hitting was worth at least $3M/year, and a couple of live arms, more than Jason Castro’s decided lack of hitting.
What are my strengths?
McCann has 6 Silver Slugger awards on his shelf, so let’s start with his bat. (Well, I assume they’re on a shelf of some sort. Maybe a display case. Or maybe when you start getting that many Silver Sluggers, you start sharing them with family. I’m really not sure.) McCann has always shown a good eye – he draws 50-55 walks a year. He also hits home runs like clockwork; in 11 full seasons, his career high is 26 and his career low is 18.
Behind the plate, McCann took a lot of flak in 2015 for his defense with the Yankees. But in 2016, he posted the best figures in the league according to BP’s pitch-blocking metrics, and he appeared to be a pretty good framer.
What are my weaknesses?
McCann is a dead-pull lefty – the kind you’ll expect to see a lot of shifts against. Unfortunately, this means you won’t expect to see a lot of benefit from the Crawford Boxes. Behind the plate, he’s below average with his arm. On the bases… well, there’s slow, there’s catcher slow, there’s molasses, and then there’s Brian McCann.
Lastly, there’s no way around this. On the field, at least, Brian McCann is an asshole.
That’s just a sampling of the attitude that has earned McCann the badge of the game’s foremost “fun police.” At least Bregman may get along well with him.
Loves to hit: Changeups. McCann went 22 for 53 with a .660 SLG against the change in 2016.
Hates to hit: Inside pitches. Last year on pitches on the inside third of the zone, or beyond, he hit less than .150. This was a new trend in 2016, so it’s worth watching whether his bat speed has slowed such that he just can’t get around when busted inside any more.
What is my future with the Astros?
That’s a pretty rich contract to say that McCann will be anything other than your starting catcher for at least the next two seasons… and barring injury, that option looks likely to vest. Whether it will be a good price for a 35-year old catcher is very much up in the air.
What is my projected 2017 performance?
For the first time, I feel the need to call out Baseball Prospectus on their projections. As I have indicated previously, BP tries to forecast playing time in their projections, whereas FanGraphs does not in ZIPS. Despite this, PECOTA actually shows more plate appearances for McCann than ZIPS does.
That in and of itself seems a little strange. But 595 plate appearances?? In his 12-year major league career, Brian McCann has made 595 plate appearances exactly ZERO times. His career high is 573, back in 2008, which is THREE Presidents ago. Mix in the fact that there are plenty of other DH options when Gattis is behind the plate, and I feel highly confident that McCann comes nowhere near 595 plate appearances.
Who else would I remind you of?
Another pain-in-the-ass Brave whose bat masked that he was better behind the plate than you probably wanted to recognize, Javy Lopez.