McCann adds veteran experience to the ‘exciting’ young O’s team

January 4, 2023

James McCann, a 32-year-old catcher, had a hectic holiday season after learning late on December 21 that he had been dealt from the Mets to the Orioles. Moving his family and getting ready for a new beginning with his fourth squad in six years is how he spends the first week of 2023.


Since finding out he was moving to Baltimore two weeks ago, McCann’s excitement has risen, especially as he’s learned more about the Orioles. While playing for New York in 2022, he was not faced with the club, but he soon gathered some information from baseball-related friends.


During a Tuesday morning Zoom call with media, McCann stated, “Guys around the league have approached me that saw them, particularly down the stretch [in 2022], and spoke about how tremendous of a group the Orioles have and that we’re going to be a good club.” I hadn’t met these folks in person for the simple reason that we didn’t play the Orioles. However, after watching the highlights and what they achieved in the last run, I believe Baltimore has much to be happy about.


Even if that means McCann will spend less time on the field than in years past.


McCann had appeared in 105 or more games in six of his first seven seasons in the big leagues before playing in just 61 games for the Mets in 2022, a season that includes two visits to the injured list. The one exception was his performance of 31 in the 60-game season in 20 that was cut short by the pandemic.


Given that McCann will be the Orioles’ backup catcher behind Adley Rutschman in the upcoming season, it is less probable that he will surpass the century mark. Rutschman should handle a sizable amount of work behind the plate; according to McCann, the team had talked with him about the prospect of receiving some starts at first base and designated hitter.


McCann can still have a significant impact on the team, despite this. He’ll have his chances to play, but when he’s not, he’ll be a mentor for the younger players in the clubhouse.


McCann remarked, “I can’t control how many games I play or don’t play.” “The only things I can control are how I behave as a teammate and what I do when my name is called. I’ll be ready for everything that comes my way. And once more, I’m eager to see Adley and aid in his development.


The White Sox’s 2019 All-Star and nine-year major league veteran McCann is hoping to show that his poor offensive performance in ’22 was an anomaly. His batting average (.195), slugging percentage (.282), OPS (.538), and OPS+ all reached career lows (55). McCann might have been the victim of some unlucky circumstances even when he wasn’t dealing with injuries.


McCann’s strikeout rate was the lowest since 2017 (24.1%), and according to Statcast, his hard-hit percentage of 40.8 was the third-best of his career. Even if other statistics didn’t support it, he thinks he corrected several negative habits he picked up at the bat in ’21 (his first year in New York).


Whether it was injuries or hitting balls directly at people, McCann recalled, “Things just didn’t bounce my way in ’22.”


Baltimore’s lineup will be stronger on days when Rutschman is sitting on the bench the more effective McCann can be at the plate. McCann is sure he can resume his offensive form from 2019 when he hit a career-high 18 home runs in 118 games while posting a.789 OPS.


If for any reason, he doesn’t, McCann is aware that his contribution to Orioles goes beyond what is reflected in the box scores.


“I’ve failed at this level before, but I overcame it by finding a method to succeed. After 2018, I wasn’t offered a contract, but in 2019, I was an All-Star,” according to McCann. “I’ve failed before; I’ve been there. And I believe that’s a part of one of my playing strengths—being able to talk to other players who might be struggling and help them get through those trying times.”


“Because of the nature of the game, you will, in the end, experience many more difficult times than enjoyable ones.”


However, McCann might enjoy his fair share of fun in Baltimore shortly if the O’s build on their successful 2022 campaign and make more progress in ’23, which he has already heard is a possibility.

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