Warming to the signing of Brian McCann

I have been on record of wanting the Yankees to go with their young catchers. After all, catching depth has been one of the team’s strength in the system with J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine and Peter O’Brien. And just as recently, my ill-fated and ill-timed Project 189 post did not include any free agent signings of a catcher. But the more I look at what the Yankees put on the field last year in the catching position and compare it to what Brian McCann did in just 102 games, the numbers go a long way to warming up to the idea of having a catcher who can actually hit the ball.

The best way to illustrate the difference is to simply compare Brian McCann’s stats in 102 games compared to the woefulness of the offensive output of Yankee catchers in 2013. Here are the highlights:

In 102 games, Brian McCann had an ISO of ..201. If you add up the ISOs put together by the three main catchers in 2013, Chris Stewart (.061), J.R. Murphy (.038) and Austin Romine (.089), the three add up to a total of .188. So even if you add all their ISOs together, the three do not add up to McCann’s ISO.

Why? Because in 162 games, Yankee catchers had 26 extra base hits. Brian McCann had 33 extra base hits in 102 games.

Here are some more offensive tidbits:

  • Yankee catchers walked a total of 47 times in 162 games. Brian McCann walked 39 times in just 102 games.
  • Yankee catchers in 2013 struck out 101 times in 162 games. Brian McCann has averaged 97 strikeouts per 162 games for his career.
  • Yankee catchers in 2013 drove in a grand total of 43 runs in 162 games. Brian McCann drove in 57 in just 102 games.
  • Yankee catchers had a combined OPS in 2013 of .587. McCann’s OPS in 2013 was .796, or 209 points higher!
  • Brian McCann was intentionally walked three times in 2013 and 61 times in his career. Nobody would dream of intentionally walking any of the Yankees’ catchers and they had zero in 2013.
  • In 162 games, Yankee catchers had a combined fWAR of 0.9. Brian McCann had an fWAR of 2.2 in 102 games and has averaged 3.4 fWAR per season for his career.
  • The combined Yankee catching corps for the Yankees in 2013 had a WPA of -2.66. Brian McCann had a WPA in 102 games of 1.46.
  • Yankee catchers had a pitch value score of -11.8 against the fastball in 2013. Brian McCann had a pitch value of 6.6 against the fastball.
  • Brian McCann had a rate of 16.3% for a home run to fly ball percentage and a 12.7% for his career. Chris Stewart’s rate was 4.2% and Austin Romine’s was 4.5%.
  • Brian McCann had a wRC+ of 122 in 2013. If you take Stewart’s wRC+ of 58 and add it to Romine’s 48 and add them together, you get 116.
  • Yankee catchers had a combined batting runs score of -25.4 in 162 games. Brian McCann’s was 9.9 in 102 games.

Yes, looking at these numbers, I can warm up to the idea of Brian McCann being the Yankees’ catcher in 2014. I can warm up quite quickly.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

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