The look of agony on Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer’s face said it all. He had been pitching an absolute gem until Brian McCann stepped to the plate and tied up the game with a HR to left field. McCann, for his part, just dropped his head and quietly jogged around the bases. That’s how he has handled his business this year. Quietly.
Even if he’s done it quietly, McCann has turned into the all around player the Yankees were looking for when they signed him after the 2013 season. At the time the deal seemed like a savvy move by the Yankees. A 30 year old power hitting catcher with a lefty swing in Yankee Stadium who could play 1st base, if needed, in the last few years of a very reasonable 5 year contract. Who wasn’t excited by that prospect?
Then McCann turned in a less than optimal season with the shift dropping his average to the second lowest of his career and only reached 23 HRs thanks to a late season surge. His defense was passable but not remarkable and, in the midst of an unsuccessful Yankees season, McCann took his share of the blame.
Turn the page to 2015 and McCann seems to have come into his own as a New York Yankee. Thanks to his game tying 3-run HR, against Archer no less, McCann has hit a career high 25 HRs. That's 6 HRs more than any qualifying catcher in MLB and his .812 OPS puts him third.
Defensively he has caught 24 would be base stealers and has just one passed ball on his ledger. That’s consistent with the visual evidence which shows that McCann looks to be more comfortable behind the plate in his 2nd season in the American League.
The Yankees need every win they can get and, when they went down 3-0 to Archer, a pitcher who was 5-0 against the Bronx Bombers with a 1.78 ERA before this start, it seemed like this was going to be another lost opportunity for the Yankees.
Then, with two on, McCann gave the Yankees new life. By the time the game was over, Archer had been saddled with his first loss against the Yankees, the Yankees had won another series and had kept even with the Toronto Blue Jays.
McCann didn’t make the All-Star team this year (didn’t come close really), has no Player of the Week awards and his average is still below .250, but he has been exactly what the Yankees needed this year: an offensive threat at the plate and a steady presence behind it. It’s a good sign for the still young catcher and an even better one for the Yankees.