clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees 2015 Roster Report Card: Brian McCann

After a disappointing 2014, the Yankees catcher bounced back and lived up to his expectations.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: A-

2015 Statistics: .232/.320 /.437 (105 wRC+), 26 HR, 94 RBI, 2.9 fWAR

2015 Contract Status: Year two of five year, $85 million contract signed on 11/23/2013

When the Yankees brought in Brian McCann after the 2013 season, the front office was hoping that he would provide an offensive spark to a team that was severely lacking in that department, and that he could consistently hold down a position that was in flux since the retirement/demise of Jorge Posada. Russell Martin was decent but his bat was lacking, and both Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart could not be relied upon, for either performance or injury-related reasons. Martin and Cervelli both went on to have excellent seasons after leaving the team, but that's pretty much irrelevant. There was little reason to believe they could be relied upon long term, and it's no shock that the Pirates were the only team to bite on both; those were the best non-waiver wire options for the position.

2014 was an incredibly disappointing year for McCann in his first year of trying to prove he could be the consistent catcher we thought he would, and largely for offensive reasons. He hit just 93 wRC+ with 23 home runs--he was merely 2012 Russell Martin all over again. There, though, was hope, and all signs pointed to a rebound in 2015.

That is pretty much what he did. Even though his batting average did not budge from the previous year, his walk rate nearly doubled, and he bumped up his overall line to 105 wRC+. That doesn't sound like the greatest thing, but it's really not bad considering the average catcher in the American League hits at 82 wRC+. According to Fangraphs' fWAR, only three catchers had a better season than McCann (ironically two of them were Martin and Cervelli).

The only red flag this season, though, was his pitch framing. Pitch framing, like any other baseball skill, declines with age, and McCann is one of the best in the league at this. This year, though, he induced only 11 extra strikes, down from his 2014 mark of 68. This could just be noise--I don't  think his true talent is really that much worse--but it is important to note that his overall skill level is already decreasing. So it goes with players over 30.

Nonetheless, McCann has proven himself to be exactly what the Yankees needed: a well-above average catcher who has good leadership abilities, plays excellent defense, and has a good rapport with pitchers. He will never be the offensive juggernaut Posada was in his prime, but it doesn't matter. If McCann continues to be a league average hitter, he will be worth every penny.