Just a few short months ago Sox fans were defeated with the way free agency went about. The missed opportunity to sign a franchise altering player in Manny Machado was the obvious heartbreak, but most fans weren’t exactly thrilled about the signing of the ex-Tiger, James McCann either. Instead more fans were intrigued in the possible addition of Yasmani Grandal who would have been a one year stop gap in place of Seby Zavala and Zack Collins. Instead, Grandal would take on a one year deal with Milwaukee for just over $18 million.
Now the organization was forced into signing a familiar face in James McCann to a one year $2.5 million dollar deal. Coming into the year, expectations were rather low for the catcher position. Welington Castillo was originally the starting catcher on the depth chart, but nobody really knew what they were going to get out of him. Castillo was looking to bounce back after being on the juice in 2018 where he kept his role of catcher 1A when he wasn’t suspended. As the 2019 season started, Castillo opened the gate to a rather slow start. Never quite getting over the hump to hit his own weight, Ricky Renteria shifted focus to the back up catcher, James McCann. And boy are we glad he did.
McCann has taken on the duties of not just a great catcher in the MLB, but a leader as well. He has formed a special connection with White Sox ace Lucas Giolito where both will be representing the organization in Cleveland at the All-Star game. But how exactly did the career average catcher wind up in the position to talk about a possible extension?
The glaring obvious reason why McCann is loved by the South Side is his ability to hit and get on base. This season his line has drastically changed from a career average of .240/.288/.366 to .319/.379/.514 with an OPS of .890. Clearly these are all-star numbers which is why he is attending this years mid season classic. He is doing all of these offensive feats while taking on the clean up spot in the lineup, something the Sox have been lacking. No his power numbers aren’t anything special with only nine homeruns and 28 RBI’s, but he has never hit more than 13 in a season. Could this be a result of MLB’s juiced ball? Or is it apart of James’s change of scenery. Either way, us Sox fans are here for it.
Which player are you taking
Player A: .266/.332/.607 23 HR, 52 RBI’s, WAR 2.5
Player B: .327/.385/.530 9 HR, 27 RBI’s, WAR 3.1
Player C: .294/.389/.576 17 HR, 48 RBI’s, WAR 2.4
— Anthony Pisarski (@Anthonyp332) June 29, 2019
Player B happens to be McCann and although he lost the poll, he is right up there as a top three catcher in the league right now.
Now onto the other side of the diamond. McCann has thrown out 41% of runners this season which is 13% higher than the league average. This just happened to be another stat the Sox have lacked in years past and now more teams are hesitant to run on them. His game-calling has been very much credited to a lot of Giolito’s improvement.
It is safe to say us Sox fans haven’t had a catcher like McCann since A.J. Pierzynski. So absolutely Rick Hahn should extend James McCann and he should do it right now. Every major league team needs a veteran presence behind the plate. The original plan might have been Collins and Zavala, but silver linings often come into play during rebuilds, and it looks like Rick Hahn may have struck gold here.
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