Search Archives
Follow Us

Featured Sponsors


Mailing List
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Twitter Feeds

This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Entries in Brian McCann (5)

Friday
Nov292013

McCann Bounces Back at Plate, But Can He Stay Behind It? 

During his twenties, Brian McCann raked like few other catchers ever have. McCann has clubbed the eighth-most home runs (176) among regular catchers through age 29, and his park-and-league-adjusted OPS (117 OPS+) ranks 13th, just behind Gary Carter and Thurman Munson. Those credentials -- at a position where sluggers are practically nonexistent -- earned McCann a five-year, $85 million free agent deal from the Yankees, with a vesting option that could bring the contract's total value to $100 million.

Did the Bombers invest wisely in a down-ballot MVP candidate, ending the procession of punch-and-judy backstops who produced a collective .298 slugging percentage last year, or did they potentially waste six figures on another aging star? The answer to that question depends upon how long McCann remains a threat at the plate -- and how long he can keep squatting behind it. Let's be honest: the prospect of paying top dollar to a guy whose occupational hazards include crouching for three hours a day while getting pummeled by foul tips, backswings and base runners is terrifying. But if his resurgent 2013 season and the history of other sweet-swinging catchers are any indication, McCann might just prove to be worth every penny.

Low stuff no longer a problem

The former Brave endured the worst season of his career in 2012, posting an 87 OPS+ as he tried to play through a right shoulder injury that required off-season surgery. He missed the first month of 2013 rehabbing, but he rebounded at the plate to the tune of a 115 OPS+. The big difference was McCann's performance against pitches thrown at the knees:

McCann's slugging percentage vs. low pitches, 2012

 

McCann's slugging percentage vs. low pitches, 2013

McCann slugged a paltry .310 versus pitches thrown to the lower third of the strike zone in 2012 -- ten points below the major league average. This past year, he slugged .437 against low stuff. He wasn't able to loft those low pitches in '12, hitting a grounder about 54% of the time that he put the ball in play, but he took to air in '13 (42% ground ball rate).

Will McCann hold up behind home plate?

Few doubt that McCann will be a massive upgrade for the Yankees in 2014, but what about in the following years? Will he continue to be an offensive stalwart at catcher, or will he be an ultra-expensive DH? Believe it or not, catchers who rake in their twenties like McCann hold up pretty well in their thirties.

Eleven other catchers have posted an OPS+ above 110 in their twenties while logging at least 1,000 games. Using Baseball-Reference's Play Index Tool, I found how these guys performed from age 30 to 35 (the years covered by McCann's contract if his option vests). Joe Mauer was excluded, as we have yet to see how the now former catcher's career unfolds. Thurman Munson, whose life came to a tragic end at 32, was also excluded. That left nine McCann comps: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Ted Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, Gary Carter, Bill Freehan, Darrell Porter, Lance Parrish, and Ivan Rodriguez.

From age 30 to 35, these players continued to hit and mostly stick behind the plate. Collectively, they:

  • Posted an OPS+ of 113
  • Averaged about 113 games per season, with 81 percent of those games coming behind the dish
  • Averaged 15.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

The results aren't really skewed by a few great performers, either: All nine remained average or above-average hitters from age 30-35, and all had at least 11 Wins Above Replacement during that time frame. Nobody busted, and several remained All-Star caliber players.

While this mini-study doesn't prove that McCann will deliver on his mega-contract, it does suggest that he's not necessarily a ticking time bomb destined for the DH spot in a year or two. If he provides the Yankees with 15-16 wins over the course of his contract, it will be $100 million well spent for a team with exceptionally deep coffers and a gaping hole at the position. Many catchers struggle to hold up both offensively and defensively as they age. But, as McCann's career comps show, he's not like most catchers.

Tuesday
Aug202013

The Tools of Intelligence: A look at NL contending catchers

One of the great statistical strides we have made in recent years is in appreciating the defensive metrics of catchers.

As Yadier Molina is being considered as an MVP candidate this season, it's not just because of his .334 batting average, but the difference he makes when he is behind the plate.

Here are the primary catchers for the NL contenders

National League Catchers
 GPAAVGOBPSLUGOPSK%BB%HR%Chas%ClStk%
Ryan Hanigan (CIN) 51 1740 .224 .282 .375 .657 23.1% 6.6% 3.3% 30.1% 34.5%
A. J. Ellis (LAD) 86 3089 .233 .297 .345 .642 20.8% 7.7% 2.0% 28.2% 31.8%
Russell Martin (PIT) 93 3422 .237 .312 .346 .657 20.7% 8.7% 2.1% 28.2% 32.4%
Brian McCann (ATL) 67 2407 .237 .293 .358 .651 22.0% 6.4% 2.1% 28.8% 33.0%
Devin Mesoraco (CIN) 74 2564 .244 .309 .386 .694 21.2% 7.8% 2.6% 29.5% 33.3%
Yadier Molina (STL) 99 3485 .246 .306 .364 .670 21.3% 6.9% 2.0% 28.9% 34.1%
Miguel Montero (ARI) 89 3353 .257 .317 .407 .725 19.6% 7.2% 3.0% 28.7% 32.3%

The biggest surprise?

For me, the biggest surprise was the effectiveness of Ryan Hanigan of the Reds.

First of all, when he's behind the plate he has the best batting average against of all the receivers being considered.

Next, his pitchers' strikeout rate is the highest of all the catchers and as you look at the chart you can see why: his called strike rate is the highest which means he's framing pitches well and even his chase rate is high which to me indicates his strength in staying steady behind the plate and not moving too much.

Of course, his home run allowed percentage is significantly higher than Yadier's.

Oh, don't forget that Hanigan is a .199 batter, 135 points less than the great Molina.

More stats to consider


  Age Tm G Inn Rtot PB WP SB CS CS%

A.J. Ellis 32 LAD 86 748.0 9 5 28 26 24 48%

Ryan Hanigan 32 CIN 51 429.2 4 3 17 10 11 52%

Russell Martin 30 PIT 93 817.1 8 4 35 36 29 45%

Brian McCann 29 ATL 67 593.2 7 1 11 32 13 29%

Devin Mesoraco 25 CIN 74 608.2 -1 3 20 35 11 24%

Yadier Molina 30 STL 99 843.0 10 2 16 18 14 44%

Miguel Montero 29 ARI 89 796.1 -0 7 39 22 12 35%
  LgAvg     15 124 0 1 5 7 3 29%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/20/2013.
 

You have to appreciate Yaddy's Rtot which indicates his play has saved 10 runs above average. This shows his MVP caliber defense.

Additionally, having A.J. Ellis behind the plate is clearly a plus for the Dodgers and there is no question that while Russell Martin is not the league's MVP, his value to the Pirates should not be minimized.

Make sure you take notice of Hanigan's, Molina's, and Martin's rate of throwing out base runners.

Here are their pitcher/catcher ERAs and all Runs allowed over 9 innings

  Pitching Stats  
  Tm PA ERA RAvg
A.J. Ellis LAD 3089 3.06 3.42
Ryan Hanigan CIN 1740 3.37 3.54
Russell Martin PIT 3422 3.16 3.38
Brian McCann ATL 2407 2.94 3.24
Devin Mesoraco CIN 2564 3.31 3.59
Yadier Molina STL 3485 3.22 3.45
Miguel Montero ARI 3353 3.80 4.03
LgAvg   524 3.73 4.07
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/20/2013. 

While there might be concern about Brian McCann's rate of throwing out baserunners, check out his ERA.

Not only watch who's at the plate, watch who's behind the plate

We have six weeks of great regular season baseball ahead and watching the catcher play will only add to your enjoyment.

Saturday
Sep012012

Bill Chuck's Nine to Know: August

August was pretty ugly for Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Red Sox Nation but overall it was a pretty cool month considering how hot it was.

Here are nine questions that demand your attention.

  1. Will the Orioles be demanding that today be declared August 32?
  2. Was August an indicator for the Pirates?
  3. Have the 2013 turn-arounds for Kansas City and San Diego already begun?
  4. I know Yovani Gallardo was 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in August, but wouldn't you agree that Felix Hernandez, with a 4-0 record and a 1.08 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP was the pitcher of the month? In 41.2 innings, he allowed 19 hits and just five earned runs; the Red Sox allowed 19 hits and 20 runs in eight innings to the A's last night.
  5. What does Derek Jeter have in common with catchers Kelly Shoppach, Brayan Pena, and Jose Molina? Jeter had 43 hits in August, the same number of hits that each of the catchers have had this entire season.
  6. Is Terry Francona headed for the Indians dugout as their next manager?
  7. The Rays pitchers allowed 2.46 runs per game in August, how can they not be the most feared team if they make the postseason?
  8. How thrilled is Atlanta's Brian McCann to turn the page to September? His .181 average was good compared to his zero homers and two RBI in 72 AB.
  9. July 23 was the last day the Tgers were in first place by themselves in the AL Central, when are we going to start raving about the work about Kenny Williams and Robin Ventura this season?

AL August

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA
TEX 19 10 .655 -- 168 128
BAL 18 9 .667 -- 118 106
OAK 18 10 .643 0.5 146 102
TBR 17 11 .607 1.5 121 69
KCR 17 11 .607 1.5 115 105
DET 16 11 .593 2.0 133 108
CHW 16 12 .571 2.5 128 118
SEA 15 12 .556 3.0 95 106
NYY 15 13 .536 3.5 133 119
LAA 13 15 .464 5.5 156 172
MIN 9 19 .321 9.5 117 138
TOR 9 19 .321 9.5 89 132
BOS 9 20 .310 10.0 139 172
CLE 5 24 .172 14.0 96 179

  NL August

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA
WSN 19 10 .655 -- 137 98
SDP 18 10 .643 0.5 119 109
CIN 19 11 .633 0.5 142 122
SFG 18 11 .621 1.0 157 126
PHI 17 12 .586 2.0 112 108
MIL 16 12 .571 2.5 148 122
COL 16 13 .552 3.0 142 143
STL 16 13 .552 3.0 124 127
ATL 15 14 .517 4.0 119 91
LAD 14 14 .500 4.5 125 111
ARI 13 16 .448 6.0 109 123
NYM 12 16 .429 6.5 83 104
MIA 12 17 .414 7.0 120 123
PIT 11 17 .393 7.5 121 135
CHC 8 21 .276 11.0 111 153
HOU 5 22 .185 13.0 75 149