Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Now In New York, Is James McCann A Top 10 Catcher?

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Over the past two seasons James McCann has emerged as one of the better hitting catchers in the game, with back-to-back strong years for the White Sox:

  • 2019 – .273 with 18 HR, 60 RBI, 62 R (476 PA)
  • 2020 – .289 with 7 HR, 15 RBI, 20 R (111 PA)

He’s added 29 doubles and 1 triple, but does that mean he’s a lock to maintain his power? Can we really expect him to post these types of averages? Obviously the Mets are believers, having handed him a 4-year contract worth around $40 million. Does that mean fantasy owners should also be buying in?

McCann’s HR/FB the past two seasons have been impressive, with marks of 18.6% and 26.9%. Can he maintain those marks, however? Some of the underlying marks definitely give you reason to doubt:

SeasonHard%Exit VelocityAverage HR
201939.9%90.2404
202036.2%90.5403

There’s nothing wrong with the numbers, though they also don’t scream of an elite slugger. That said, even with a small step backwards if he’s hitting for a strong enough average there is going to be value.

Of course the average is hardly a given. While he’s posted strong marks, he’s also benefited from BABIP of .359 and .339. Using the entire field helps, but his Hard% and lack of speed make those numbers tough to believe in.

Then you have the strikeouts, which have been an issue each season (28.8% and 27.0%). Of course the approach hasn’t quite been that bad (SwStr% // O-Swing%):

  • 2019 – 13.5% // 35.3%
  • 2020 – 11.8% // 30.5%

Those aren’t great, but they aren’t abysmal either. It should yield at least slightly better marks, which will help to offset the inevitable luck regression. Is he a .270+ hitter? Probably not, but .250ish isn’t impossible.

If McCann can maintain 15-20 HR power, with that type of AVG, there’s going to be potential to be a Top 10 catcher. While we shouldn’t be paying for the past two years, as a full-time starter he’s well worth having on radars if you miss out on the bigger names.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2021 rankings:

PositionDate Updated
Catcher--
First Baseman11/09/20
Second Baseman11/16/20
Third Baseman11/30/20
Shortstop12/07/20
Outfielder--
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--



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