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positional-preview-catcher | December | 2007 Articles

2007 Archives

Positional Preview: Catcher

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Looking at Brian McCann's 2007 season, it was a pretty good year at the plate. He was selected to the MLB All-Star game (although probably undeserved) for the second straight year and had an OPS of .772. When the 23-year old catcher's previous major league feats are taken into account however, it was a fairly disappointing season. In 2006, Brian McCann's .960 OPS really put him on the map as an elite offensive catcher, however a year later, a drop in production has seen the young catcher fall off that top tier of major league backstops. During an injury-shortened campaign two years ago, McCann managed to blast out 24 home runs in a mere 442 at bats, while hitting .333 and with an incredible .572 slugging percentage. A year later, his stats dropped significantly due to quite a few factors that can pretty easily be pinpointed looking at his peripherals. His BABIP dropped over fifty points to .286, his strikeouts rate went up a bit, his walk rate went down a bit, his HR/FB dropped over four percentage points, and his line drive percentage dropped three points. Adding to, and perhaps playing a significant role in his struggles was a nagging ankle injury that he suffered throughout the season. The injury, which probably took a toll on his production, definitely reared its ugly head in his defense. McCann, who has never been particularly known for his glove, looked lost behind the plate. The defensive struggles didn't manifest itself that much in his own defensive stats (which aren't a good measure of defensive ability), but decreased mobility was quite obvious as he had trouble blocking balls in the dirt or moving to poorly thrown balls. I think we should be looking at a number of factors that caused the disparity in Brian McCann's numbers between '06 and '07. His luck shifted from good to bad, the injury took its toll, and lets face it, McCann is just not as good as his 2006 numbers would suggest. That's not to say he isn't capable of being an elite offensive catcher, however it's not really fair to expect his 2006 production year in and year out when McCann never hit higher than .290 or had an OPS over .835 in the minors. His pros are good power for a catcher, pretty good plate discipline, and a nice left-handed swing that should provide a good average. On the other side, he's at best average with the glove and in the time it takes him to get to first, most players would be rounding third. One note to take into account is that McCann underwent Lasik eye surgery this off-season, which has supposedly worked wonders. In forecasting him for next season, I'm pretty much going to take the middle road between his past two seasons. Bill James has him down for .297/.360/.506 (courtesy of fangraphs) and I'm going to go very similar to that with a prediction of .300/.360/.500. That gives him an .860 OPS, making him again one of the top catchers in the professional ranks. We are definitely set for quite a while behind the plate with a pretty incredible player and that's a luxury not many teams can say they have.
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