Mets catcher James McCann might not be in a slump after all
By Tim Boyle
The number of New York Mets players slumping through the early part of the season is extensive. The offense has been absent more often than not. Hitters are struggling in all situations—particularly with their teammates in scoring position.
This isn’t anything you’re unfamiliar with. If you’ve watched even a single Mets game this year, odds are you noticed the team stranding someone 90 feet away from scoring.
One Mets player with some poor early numbers is catcher James McCann. A major offseason acquisition, I don’t think he’s slumping. This may, unfortunately, just be the kind of hitter McCann is.
James McCann came to the Mets this offseason with a lackluster resume
I know McCann spent 149 games with the Chicago White Sox in 2019 and 2020 killing baseballs. He saw his offensive production climb to unprecedented numbers. After hitting .240/288/.366 in 1,658 chances with the Detroit Tigers, McCann suddenly became a .276/.334/.474 hitter with some pretty good pop.
McCann has already had more than half as many at-bats as he had in 2020 when he was well on his way to a career year. However, his numbers are far below the .289/.360/.536 he hit in his final year with the White Sox. McCann is hitting only .217 through his first 18 games played with 16 strikeouts and already five double plays grounded into.
I think the Mets were fully aware of what the floor for McCann might look like. You can’t sign a guy to a four-year contract without understanding what his track record looks like. McCann’s defense is what attracted the front office most. Typically found in the number eight spot of the batting order, his offense is just a small part of what he can offer. So far, there hasn’t been very much at all.
There are a lot of ways one could spin the McCann signing. An example I heard was that catchers sometimes take a little longer to develop as hitters. McCann fully represented this possibility. It wasn’t until his age 29 season that he started to look like a good offensive weapon.
Something to consider with him, McCann has not been a workhorse in his career. Will it help him stay healthier? Possibly. It would be a great benefit to the Mets to know he doesn’t have the same wear and tear as some other catchers his age have on them.
This hasn’t translated into any success at the plate this year. Instead, he’s looking much closer to the type of hitter he was in pre-2019 before the league exploded offensively in 2019.
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Mets fans shouldn’t worry as long as they understand this is exactly what McCann might be. Eight-hole hitters don’t have to knock 20 home runs or even hit .250. As much of a disappointment as he might be at times, he is what he is.