The New York Mets have a very interesting history with their catchers. In the mix are absolute legends like Gary Carter and Mike Piazza. You can sprinkle in a Paul LoDuca or Todd Hundley for good measure, but other than that – not much.
According to the Ultimate Mets Database, James McCann will be the 99th catcher to suit up for the Mets. Only time will tell on whether he will join the four above-mentioned names as one of the best in the team’s history.
We recently released a story on Three Predictions for McCann in 2021. One of the predictions was that he’d provide the “Most stability behind the plate for the Mets since Paul LoDuca.”
"For years we kept hearing about how Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki were the future. There were some starts and spurts from d’Arnaud, but nothing ever materialized in the Mets uniform for these two.There were also forgettable stops at the beginning of the 2010s by Rod Barajas and John Buck. Then who could forget the few months of Devin Mesoraco that showed us just what a real catcher looked like.Next was Wilson Ramos who had a wonderful offensive showing in 2019 but then fell off a cliff in 2020 at nearly everything."
From the late 80s into 2007, the catcher position was strong. Carter grabbed the late 80s with Hall of Fame leadership and grit. Hundley emerged in the early 90s and blossomed into a force for a number of years. Then Piazza joined and locked the position down for the better part of five years before injuries slowed him down. Next was LoDuca for two great to good seasons.
Since then, however, Mets and good catchers go together like them and having winning seasons, few and far between.
We’ve had to endure full seasons of Omir Santos, Brian Schnieder, Barajas, Josh Thole, Buck, and then an assortment of spare part and backup catchers who were thrust into starting roles for way too long.
Listen to some of these names: Taylor Teagarden, Kelly Stinnett, Robinson Cancel, Raul Cassanova, Kevin Plawecki, Tomas Nido, Eli Marrero, Ramon Castro, Renee Rivera, Anthony Recker, and on and on.
McCann comes to the Mets at a time when the expectation is to literally “just catch the ball” when thrown home. Wilson Ramos must have cost the Mets at least a dozen runs and a few games just because of his inability to receive a throw. This is not to mention him not blocking the plate well on pitches in the dirt.
McCann just has to do his thing that’s he always done, put up above-average metrics as a receiver for a very good pitching staff. If he couples that with his most recent uptick of offensive prowess, he could very easily become a top-five catcher of all-time in the organization.
Right now an old-timer such as John Sterns or Jerry Grote is holding that five-spot from McCann and they are only there because of their longevity. If you take a look at their stats, they are not very impressive. So if McCann can average 15 home runs and 60 plus RBI during his tenure, he’d be among the better offensive catchers in team history.
He also needs to be durable. McCann has yet to play more than 118 games in a season. Most of that is because early on in his career he wasn’t a full-time starter. Catchers do get beat up the most and need their rest. Most aren’t a workhorse for 140 to 150 games like Piazza. But if the Mets can get at least 130 games from McCann averaged out, he would have been a great signing.
One of the other predictions made was concerning his leadership:
"James McCann has a chance to set that tone as a new member of the New York Mets. As previously stated, he has more tools behind the plate than almost any catcher they’ve had back there in years.In watching him in his early interviews on SNY and MLB Network, he is poised, calm, and confident. He is eager to help his teammates improve, one example being Steven Matz. He has caught the likes of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, David Price, and Rick Porcello. All four of these pitchers have won the Cy Young award. Now he’ll catch Jacob deGrom, who should have no problem with pitching to him.Just from hearing him speak, you can tell that he is beloved by his teammates and has this calming David Wright like presence."
Since that was written Matz is out of the equation but it would be interesting to see how he works with a young pitcher like David Peterson. Peterson had a very good showing in a small sample size in 2020. He wasn’t throwing to the best catchers, so it would be interesting to see what McCann gets out of him.
The same can be said for a returning Noah Syndergaard and a Marcus Stroman who missed an entire season.
Catching, much like managing, is about learning to deal with and assist many different personalities and types. McCann will definitely have his homework coming into a new ballclub with familiar faces on the pitching staff.
It will be important for James McCann to establish himself as a Mets stalwart at catcher since they didn’t sign JT Realmuto. We’ll be watching Realmuto with the Phillies just a short trek away and if McCann is a dud, it’ll be another slight on the Mets.
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It’s time to stop talking about the ones that got away from the Mets and talk about the ones we have.