Brian McCann has kind of gone under the radar in terms of storylines for the Yankees so far this season. He hasn't been one of the Yankees' better hitters like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez, and he hasn't been awful like Carlos Beltran or Didi Gregorius. However, I think his start has been pretty interesting.
McCann is hitting .266/.319/.453/.773 with a .335 wOBA and a 110 wRC+. This is a big improvement from his overall line last year when he hit .232/.286/.406/.692 with a .306 wOBA and a 92 wRC+. When looking into McCann's peripherals, however, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense how he has improved his numbers.
His walk rate is an abysmal 2.8 percent and last year he rarely walked too with a 5.9 percent rate. I don't know what happened to his plate discipline from his Atlanta days when he was consistently around 10 percent. Everyone on the Yankees has seemingly improved their plate discipline this year except for him.
McCann's numbers are better due to batting .300 on balls in play, compared to a .231 BABIP last season. The obvious concern is that he's been getting lucky, especially when you consider his line drive rate is all the way down to 13.7 percent and his fly ball rate is up to 49 percent. This lines up with the eye test, as it seems like McCann has been hitting too many lazy fly balls this season.
Looking at the optimistic side, the higher BABIP may not be all luck, but a change in approach for McCann. Despite all the fly balls, McCann only has two home runs this season. His HR/FB ratio is a career low eight percent, so he has been a little unlucky in that regard. However, he has been going against the shift exponentially more often. Look at this spray chart!
This chart would even suggest teams should not be shifting against him, as amazingly enough he has more hits up the middle and to left field than pulling the ball. Of course I'm sure if teams stopped shifting him he would go back to pulling the ball, so it won't happen.
McCann has pretty much been the anti-Teixeira so far. He has given up his home runs to raise his average and go the other way more often. Both strategies have worked well so far for both players. Teixeira has been hitting extra base hits and walking at a rapid pace and McCann's offensive numbers have improved. If McCann could just start walking again things could really get good for him.
So it's really hard to know what to make of McCann's start. You would really like to see more line drives and walks, but going against the other way has been a big positive. I'm very interested to see what he does the rest of the season.