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Yankees 2014 Roster Report Card: Brian McCann

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Will Brian McCann rebound in 2015 or will his contract become another albatross?

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: D

2014 Statistics: 108 games, .232/.286/.406, 23 HR, 75 RBI, .306 wOBA,  92 WRC+

2015 Contract Status: Signed for $17 million.  Four years and $68 million are remaining on the deal.  Contract also includes a $15 million vesting option in 2019.

After a dismal offensive display behind the dish in 2013, the Yankees were looking to significantly upgrade the catching position. They accomplished that quickly by signing top free agent catcher Brian McCann before Thanksgiving to a five-year and $85 million contract. At the time, the move to sign the former Atlanta Brave was praised by both the media and the experts. Many of them predicted that he would hit 30 home runs a year with the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, the overall results fell short of the expectations.

McCann’s first two months wearing pinstripes were a struggle, as he hit just .229 with seven home runs and 24 runs batted in. June was a complete disaster for him while he hit below the Mendoza Line with a meager two home runs.  Then in July, he missed two games due to left foot soreness after fouling a ball of his foot. Although his power disappeared for a second straight month, he did hit for a .287 average. In August, he missed six more games, suffering a mild concussion after taking a foul tip to the face mask. Upon returning his struggles continued, as he neither hit for power nor for average. McCann did end the season on a power surge, hitting eight homers in the month of September.

The numbers from 2012-2014 are somewhat similar, begging to question if this is the player that McCann has become. While offense around the game has fallen, he has remained somewhat steady. This past season he improved his strikeout percentage while his walk rate dropped significantly. It's imperative that he returns to being more selective at the plate and takes more walks, as his 5.9 walk percentage is a new career low.

Year

Avg

OBP

SLG

HR

RBI

wOBA

WRC+

K%

BB%

2012

.230

.300

.399

20

67

.300

87

15.60%

9.00%

2013

.256

.336

.461

20

57

.347

121

16.40%

9.70%

2014

.232

.286

.406

23

75

.306

92

14.30%

5.90%

Next, we’ll take a look at his 2014 spray chart courtesy of FanGraphs.


Source: FanGraphs

Looking at this chart you'll notice the amount of fly balls hit in the infield. Infield fly balls are generally automatic outs, and with an 11.1 percent infield fly ball rate, it's no wonder his numbers suffered. Next, I examined the chart for ground balls and see that most of the pitches were hit directly into the shift, which is unsurprising as he's a left-handed batter. McCann continues to be one of the most shifted against hitters in baseball. These trends are in part responsible for his continued under-performing .231 BABIP. Those numbers would've been most likely worse if it weren't for his career low 32.7 ground ball rate percentage.

Defensively, he continued to be one of the top catchers in the game, finishing sixth in caught stealing percentage and first in extra strike calls with 141. His leadership on the field showed this season in the handling of the pitching staff. Through the addition of multiple new pitchers throughout the year, McCann kept focus, guiding the staff to be one of the better rotations, statistically, in the game.

Maybe just maybe our expectations weren't realistic to begin with. The results in 2015 may progress as the numbers show that they should, but I wouldn't bet on a return to the 2009 production level. As a catcher in his 30's, McCann remains one of the very best at the position and in a league of weak hitting catchers, that's a huge advantage.

Stats courtesy of FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus and Baseball-Reference