Chicago White Sox: James McCann established himself in 2019

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox signed James McCann last offseason with little expectations for the catcher as he was coming off the worst season of his career with the Detroit Tigers.

In 2018, James McCann hit .220/.267/.314 with eight homers and 39 RBI to give himself a 57 OPS+ and -0.5 bWAR.

On top of it, he was among the worst catchers in the game defensively as well with -5.0 fielding runs above average (FRAA) which ranked 101st out of 117 catchers that season, according to Baseball Prospectus.

With that being the case, the Detroit Tigers non-tendered the catcher, which allowed the Chicago White Sox to sign him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

His 2019 season would go on to be much better with his new team as he’d hit .273/.328/.460 with 18 homers, 26 doubles, and 60 RBI.

That gave him a 109 OPS+ and 3.8 bWAR, the latter of which was higher than his previous career value as a player in which he had only accumulated a 3.3 bWAR prior to that point.

One thing the team needs to look out for in the future, though, is his unusually high BABIP in 2019 as detailed by FanGraphs. He had a .359 BABIP this season which is higher than the average by a good margin.

That’s not to say he can’t repeat this success, it’s just that the team has to be careful about their expectations of him going forward.

The likelihood is he’s still their starting catcher for the entirety of the 2020 season and maybe even longer. If the team were to want to keep him past next season, though, they would have to pay up as he will hit the open market after that, which is his last season of arbitration, as noted by Spotrac.

While this was certainly a breakout season for him, the team should look to get one more strong season from him before committing to him as their everyday backstop long-term and also see if he makes any improvements defensively.

The 29-year-old actually got worse on that front in 2019 as he registered -10.2 FRAA. They will have to determine whether or not that is what he is defensively or if he can make a course correction defensively.

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Nonetheless, James McCann had by far the best year of his career in 2019 and the Chicago White Sox should rest easy about the catcher position entering 2020.