In the real world, the arrival of Gary Sanchez signifies a changing of the guard for the Yankees and an end to the Brian McCann era. In our fantasy world it means owners, especially those in dynasty leagues, will soon cast aside McCann in the belief that he will have little to no value to them anymore. While he may no longer be the full-time backstop for the Yankees, McCann could actually gain some value in fantasy leagues, especially dynasty leagues. First, let’s take a look at some of McCann’s numbers just to refresh your memory on what he brings to the table.
We’ll start with the most coveted stat in all of baseball, home runs. McCann hit 20 home runs in 2016. On its own that means very little since eight other players reached the 20 home run plateau. Of those eight players, Russell Martin, Salvador Perez and Evan Gattis are the only ones to hit 20 or more home runs in 2015 along with McCann. In 2014 Evan Gattis is the only one to appear out of that trio in the 20 plus home run column, with McCann of course. McCann has hit at least 20 home runs in all but one season dating back to 2006 (he hit 18 in 2007). That kind of consistency deserves an extra dollar or two even at age 32.
The FB%, HR/FB% and hard hit rate have all remained constant over the years. The contact% did drop this year, but it was primarily the O-Contact% that slipped – the Z-Contact% stayed above 90. His average fly ball distance was down compared to last season, but it was in line with his 2014 distance of 280 feet. Overall, all the indicators say his home runs stroke is intact. Given the customary average 450 at bats, McCann should be good for at least several seasons with 20 or more home runs.
The next important fantasy category would be runs batted in. McCann had an off-year totaling just 58 RBIs in 2016. That was still good enough to tie him for 10th at the position. With the exception of 2013, his final year with the Braves, McCann has finished inside the top-10 for RBIs in every year dating back to 2006 – in more than half of those years he was a top-5 option for the category. Just like the home runs, that sort of consistency is worthy of an extra dollar or two.
Runs scored is another standard category in our fantasy world. The 56 runs that McCann scored in 2016 may seem low, but it actually tied him for 8th place among all catchers. In 2015 his 68 runs ranked 3rd and 57 runs in 2014 again rank him in the top-5. He has two outliner seasons (2012 and 2013) where he did not rank inside the top-10 for the runs category, but just like home runs and RBIs he has been a top-10 option in the category dating back to 2006.
The batting average is the one area that McCann does not excel at and I will not attempt to sugarcoat things. A best case scenario would be a .250 average if everything breaks right – his low point would be an average around .230. That isn’t great, but considering you are getting top-10 production in the above three categories it is a small sacrifice. Other than age there is not much difference between him and say, Yasmani Grandal, other than the consistency factor. Fantasy owners love upside players, but consistency and reliability can be just as valuable, if not more so.
So now that you are fully aware of what McCann brings to the table, let’s discuss his dynasty value moving forward. I mentioned Gary Sanchez in the introduction. The Yankees are in a rebuilding mode and Sanchez will obviously be the man behind the plate for the foreseeable future. That means McCann will be limited to DH duties the same way that Victor Martinez was when he signed with Detroit. But there is one stark contrast between these two situations. Martinez moved from behind the plate because he was no longer physically capable of handling the rigors of the position. That is not the case with McCann.
While Sanchez will be the primary catcher, the Yankees will need a backup to spell him a few times a week. I don’t envision a scenario in which the Yankees sign someone in the offseason to play this role, not while McCann is fully capable of serving as backup and mentor to young Sanchez. That means McCann should get at least 20 games behind the plate in each of the next two years he is under contract. That would extend his catcher eligibility right through 2019. McCann will be 35 in 2019 which would be old for a catcher, but not over the hill for a 20 home run hitting DH that only carries the catcher tag.
When Victor Martinez went to Detroit they had a similar plan for him. Unfortunately health issues prevented this from happening. McCann is now the same age that Martinez was when he arrived in Detroit. The difference is he has two healthy legs to stand on. Fantasy owners were thrilled then at the potential of rostering Martinez to use at catcher even though he would only play the position sparingly. McCann is now in that position, but for some reason I don’t see the same enthusiasm.
The lightened workload combined with the additional at bats from the DH slot means increased home run, RBI and run scoring opportunities for McCann. He is already a top-10 option in all three of three of these categories. The additional at bats virtually guarantee he will continue to be so with the potential for more. If you play in a dynasty league and are in need of a catcher, I would make a lowball offer to the McCann owner. They would probably be willing to trade him at a huge discount given his age and the presence of Sanchez. Take advantage of this and act now.
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