The biggest name the Mets signed this offseason was James McCann. They signed him to a four-year $40 million-dollar deal. He was supposed to be the full-time catcher who can hit and also play the position well, something the Mets haven’t had in over a decade.
The Mets gave McCann this deal and opted not to go after J.T. Realmuto who eventually re-signed with the Phillies. The deal was a risk as McCann had only two years in which he was productive at all offensively and one of those years was the shortened 2020 season.
McCann had a great 2019 in which he hit 18 home runs, had an OPS+ of 108, and was an all-star. The White Sox then signed Yasmani Grandal so McCann only played in 31 games in 2020. While he did do well, this isn’t really a large enough sample size to give a player a four-year deal off of.
McCann proved that with his play this year. He slashed .232/.294/.349 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI. His 77 OPS+ was reminiscent of his days in Detroit when he just couldn’t hit.
One thing that really stood out to me was the number of ground balls he hit. 52.1% of McCann’s batted balls were on the ground. This was 13% higher than 2020. Just 20.2% of his batted balls were line drives, 13.1% lower than 2020.
As a catcher, McCann doesn’t have much speed so hitting the ball on the ground is almost certainly going to result in an out unless he finds a hole. A key to McCann getting back to his 2019 and 2020 form would be getting more lift on the ball.
McCann played a lot because he was supposed to hit. Tomas Nido, the backup catcher, is not a good hitter either but he is elite defensively. Nido was in the 100th percentile in framing according to baseball savant and posted a 5 DRS in just 58 games. McCann was in the 43rd percentile in framing and posted a -5 DRS. Nido threw out 57% of potential base stealers, McCann threw out 27% of potential base stealers.
Nido is far and away the better defensive player so if both McCann and Nido are not hitting, Nido should be getting a majority of the starts. Next season the Mets should start with McCann but if he doesn’t start off strong, they should play Nido until McCann proves he can hit.
Hopefully, McCann proves me wrong but this signing looks awful so far.