NY Mets: James McCann deserves more time to justify deal
By Mason Smoller
Entering the 2021 off-season, the New York Mets had a timeline at the catcher position. With a future star in 19-year-old Francisco Alvarez in the minors for a few more years, they needed someone to play every day behind the plate until he is ready.
Then again, the team could have snagged the best catcher in baseball in J.T. Realmuto during free agency. Snagging him from the Philadelphia Phillies would have sent fans into a frenzy, kicking off the Steve Cohen ownership era in exceptional fashion.
Instead, the Mets went the safe route, as if the Wilpons were still in control. Rather than paying up to a two-time All-Star in Realmuto, the Mets turned to former Chicago White Sox backup catcher James McCann.
Now, just two months into his Mets tenure, and McCann has quickly found himself on the fanbase’s bad side. And who knows when he will be able to change that.
McCann’s horrid offensive start
At the moment, McCann is having the worst offensive season of his career. He is barely hovering around a .200 batting average. Pair that with an on-base percentage well below .300, he has found himself to be a liability in the batting order.
Certainly, this is not the player the Mets thought they were getting when they paid him $40-million over four years this off-season. In 2020, McCann hit for a .289 average with seven home runs in 31 games.
Entering their weekend series against the Miami Marlins, McCann only has one home run despite having two more at-bats than he did in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. That being said, it is easy to understand why Mets fans have grown impatient with their new catcher.
McCann’s elite defensive start
Even with McCann’s offensive struggles, manager Luis Rojas is keeping him in the starting lineup for a reason. That reason is because of his glove behind the plate.
According to ESPN, McCann is tied for third amongst catcher’s defensive wins above replacement with 0.5. He also has caught seven baserunners stealing, good for second in all of baseball.
Time will tell if McCann was the right choice
Of course, Mets fans can only wonder what could have been had the team landed Realmuto. But the fact of the matter is they have McCann for the next four years.
Taking that into consideration, nobody should be panicking over his offensive struggles in his first two months with the team.
McCann is a veteran through and through, with over 2,000 plate appearances in his eight-year career. He also finds himself struggling in a year that everyone around him is too.
Many batters around the league are finding themselves having a hard time at the plate in 2021. Teammates Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, and more are no expectations either.
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Simply, the reality is that the team’s overall offensive issues have shined a light on McCann, especially given the team’s injuries. No, McCann does not deserve to get a pass, like Lindor seemingly is, for his poor offensive performance. But, he certainly deserves more time to prove himself as the man to hold down the fort until Alvarez hits the show.