They say the first step toward getting rid of a problem is to admit that you have one. Brian McCann has a problem, and last night he admitted it.
After signing his big free agent deal in the off-season, McCann was expected to provide much-needed lefty power to the Yankees lineup, especially toward Yankee Stadium's short porch in right field. So far, however, that hasn't quite happened. After 74 games, he is batting .221 with 9 home runs and 36 RBIs.
After last night's loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, he summed up his year in one word: "Horrible." I loved it. Rather than talk about good at-bats he's had or how hard he's hitting the ball, McCann came right out and said that he stinks. That's a huge first step towards turning things around.
Another step McCann is taking to improve things is trying to hit the ball the other way. Teams have over-shifted on him the entire season, putting a majority of fielders on the right side during his at-bats. However, almost from the very beginning, McCann has tried to hit the ball to left field, not in every at-bat, but in a fair amount of plate appearances. Also, though it hasn't worked, he has also tried to bunt his way on.
That's a lot more than you can say about some other batters, who have continued to stubbornly hit right into the teeth of the shift, going from hitting over .300 every year to consistently putting up an average in the.250s. (Yes, Mark Teixeira, I'm talking about you.) McCann seems to know that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and getting the same bad results. He's determined to find another way of doing things, for better results.
People might be in a hurry to label Brian McCann a bust. Whether he is or he isn't, he certainly won't be taking that label lying down.