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Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: BRIAN McCANN CATCHER NEW YORK YANKEES

                                            Brian McCann

Depending on who you ask, either New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann was terrific in 2014 or a complete bust.  Undoubtedly more would side on the latter after McCann failed to hit close to 30 home runs which some expected due to his lefty swing and his move from pitching-dominant Atlanta to the offensive haven that is the Yankee ballpark.  However McCann did not hit 30 home runs or really come close and he wound up finishing with an ugly .232 batting average as opposing teams unmercifully employed a strict defensive shift that he showed no sings of being able to beat.  As McCann enters into his second season with the Yanks likely more comfortable in his surroundings, let's take a look at what he could provide his owners in 2015.

McCann to me is an interesting case study for a number of reasons.  Ultimately McCann hit 23 home runs last season which is actually a tremendous number for a catcher.  However McCann hit 8 of those home runs in September as he adjusted his stance and went back to an approach he used back in his early Braves days when he looked like a can't miss hitting star.  Any catcher that can hit 20-plus home runs is very valuable and on that front McCann more than made the grade last season.  In addition, the 75 RBI is a very high number for a catcher as well which means McCann was not the complete bust he was made out to be.  However there were negatives and the biggest was the ugly .232 average.  Clearly some of the struggles McCann had there were a combination of being distracted while learning a whole new pitching staff while also trying to hit against unfamiliar pitchers after being previously a National League lifer.  While we can excuse McCann a bit due to those factors, what we can't overlook is his awful adjustments to the shift and his increased struggles against lefthanded pitching which have combined to shoot his average way down over the last couple of seasons.  Consider that in 2008 and 2009, McCann batted .301 and .281 respectively.  However since that time, McCann has seen his average nosedive as teams began employing the shift and he became a liability against lefties.  In particular over the last three years McCann has been dreadful with the average as he has batted .230, .256, and .232 during that span.  So what we can say now as McCann turned 31 this past February is that his average struggles are now clearly part of the statistical equation.  Now with a catcher you can accept some ugly batting averages as long as the power is there and in McCann's case the latter is surely there with last season's 23 home runs.  And again with more comfort in his new surroundings, there is the chance McCann could reach the 25 home run and 80 RBI mark which are top-notch numbers in the power categories for a catcher which means you shouldn't bump him down too much.  Consider that Carlos Santana is just as much of a batting average liability as McCann but he has been getting picked a full three rounds higher than his counterpart so far in early ADP's.  Yes Santana has better eligibility but that is still a bit of a reach when you consider the similarities in power. 

Again now that McCann is 31, there is zero ceiling left to his name and what you see now is what you get for better or worse.  In order to get the good (HR/RBI), you have to accept the bad in the form of the ugly average.  The consensus of McCann going bust last season has driven down his 2015 draft price a bit more than it should and that means a small profit could be made under that situation.  As long as the price holds under that scenario, we would take McCann on as our starting catcher.

2015 PROJECTION:  .244 23 HR 78 RBI 59 R 2 SB

 

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