Brian McCann is in his third year as the New York Yankees’ catcher. And despite his clutch production, steady defense, and veteran leadership, some Yankee fans still take the 32-year-old backstop for granted.
Signed to a 5-year, $85 million contract in the winter of 2013, McCann was an instant fit in New York, at least on paper. The Yankees needed a catcher in the worst way, and McCann was everything the Yankees wanted: a player in the prime of his career with a powerful bat, a quality defender, and a proven leader.
So when McCann’s first season as a Yankee didn’t go according to plan (he still hit 23 homers and tallied 75 RBI), some fans became down on the latest big-money Yankee acquisition.
McCann was victimized by the defensive shift, which saw his batting average and on-base percentage plummet, and he seemed to target the right field short porch of Yankee Stadium too much, only hitting 4 of his 23 home runs on the road.
But McCann, ever the optimist, stayed true to himself. He came back with a vengeance in 2015, narrowly missing out on an All-Star nomination. He improved his power numbers to 26 homers and 94 RBI, while hitting almost as many dingers on the road as at Yankee Stadium, improving his defense, and becoming a Yankee mainstay.
But somehow, McCann’s banner 2015 slipped under the radar for some fans, who instead were captivated by the flashy heroics of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
However, as those two players have limped through the 2016 campaign, McCann has taken on a starring role. Usually batting cleanup, the Yankee catcher is having his best statistical season with the Yankees yet.
Just past the halfway point of the season, McCann has clubbed 14 long balls and accumulated a .248 AVG, a .347 OBP, and a .809 OPS. All of those totals would be McCann’s best as a Yankee.
And once again, no All-Star selection.
That’s because it has taken a few clutch plays in June for McCann to actually get the recognition that he has rightfully earned. A game-tying 3-run home run in the ninth against the Texas Rangers and a game-winning RBI double against the Cleveland Indians have been some of McCann’s finest moments this year, but if you look at McCann’s career, it is chock full of clutch performances.
He has always had a knack for walk offs, but it’s more than that with McCann. It just seems that whenever his team needs the big hit, the big catcher will come through.
Another thing that McCann takes immense pride in is his defense. McCann has consistently thrown out baserunners at a rate above the league average, allows few passed balls, and calls an excellent game.
McCann has taken it upon himself to teach the finer points of catching to his compatriots, young catchers such as Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, and Kyle Higashioka during Spring Training. It is rare to see a veteran so willing to help out youngsters, but McCann does it graciously.
McCann has some obvious adversity as a lefty pull hitter in the AL East. He is not quite as good against southpaws as he is against righties, and he is shifted against almost 100% of the time. But if you think that that’s going to stop McCann, think again.
He may not get the hype of other Yankee sluggers, but those that watch the games know that the Yankees are fortunate to have Brian McCann.