Friday, January 24, 2014

Player Assessment: Catcher

The Yankees prized new catcher will have to acclimate to the Bronx climate, where he will call Yankee Stadium his home for the next five seasons. Brian McCann made his debut with the Atlanta Braves at the young age of 21 and played nine seasons for Atlanta. This year, the Yankees had their eye on the most sought after free agent catcher and made their plea, and McCann decided that he would call the Bronx his new home, in part because of how he described the Yankees as being all-in and that they wanted him more than any other team did. Brian McCann is a gritty player who has certainly gotten into a couple of incidents on the field due to his competitive personality, most prominently displayed when he got into the face of Marlins rookie star pitcher Jose Fernandez after he trotted around the bases following his first Major League home run. With Jeter's time in pinstripes soon coming to an end, McCann is the perfect player to have in the clubhouse who will assume the role of leader. If this will be Jeter's last season, McCann has some homework to do on Jeter and how he captures the minds of young players.

On the field, McCann is a power-hitting lefty who should have fun at Yankee Stadium, as Turner Field was not as home run friendly to lefties. McCann's career high in homers is 24, which he did twice in his career with Atlanta. He is a run producer and his power will translate to the short porch at Yankee Stadium. McCann however, has had trouble staying on the field over the last three seasons. He missed a combined 135 games going back to the 2011 season, and has had several visits on the disabled list. This may all change upon coming to New York, as his manager and bench coach are both former Major League catchers and Girardi is very good with resting guys, and to McCann's advantage he has the opportunity to DH some games, likely in day games after a night game. McCann's bat is definitely a bonus to his framing ability, which is among the highest in baseball.

Defensively, McCann is league average, or slightly below average. However, he can frame pitches well and gets along with his pitchers. McCann threw out only 24% of would-be base stealers in 2013, which is also his career average of caught stealing. Even so, his defense behind the plate has improved dramatically since his rookie days.

The Yankees newest catcher, who signed with the Yankees in November for 5 years and $85 million will be a great addition to the clubhouse, as well as on the field. McCann has a high ceiling and I believe that he will be rejuvenated and will perform best under the pressure of the screaming Bronx fans, who will learn to love his New York-like personality on the field.

My predictions for Brian McCann in 2014: .285 AVG, .350 OBP, 25 HR, 80 RBI

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