Will Brian McCann’s new home generate more offense?
Of little surprise to me, the New York Yankees have signed catcher Brain McCann to a five-year, $85MM deal. There is a vesting option for a sixth year, which would being the total value of the contract to $100MM.
And you know something, there might not have been a better ballpark for McCann to call his new home in Yankee Stadium. We know of the “short porch” in right field. And is it a common thought that McCann is a pull hitter. I can’t emphasize this enough, Brian McCann is a dead pull hitter. Well, as far as his power goes, he is.
No one would dare confuse Turner Field as being a hitter’s paradise. Since McCann entered the bigs in 2005, the highest BPF for Turner Field has been 102 which was each of the last two seasons. The lowest was 98 in ’07 and ’08. For his new home, 102 is the lowest is has ever been rated. That was this past season.
But Turner Field wasn’t a bad place for McCann. His home/away splits are actually a little surprising.
So now I look at McCann’s spray chart on Brooks Baseball (using the plot of hit type), you will see that the vast majority of McCann’s home runs are pulled. Checking on Fangraphs, I see that 140 of McCann’s 176 career home runs have been deemed as being pulled. That’s almost 80%.
Then I wondered about all of those fly balls that fell just short of going out of Turner Field. Surely some of those would have been home runs at Yankee Stadium, right? During last season, it appears that none of McCann’s outs at Turner Field would have resulted in a Yankee Stadium home run. Of course, that would be assuming the conditions for both locations were identical. The stigma of Yankee Stadium states otherwise.
The perception was a “wind tunnel” effect. This was actually disproved when a study was conducted. The cause: the shape of the wall? An auxiliary scoreboard? Seems to be the case. The linked story is an interesting read and it is rather short.
Sure, McCann might also have been in line to see an offensive bump had he gone to Colorado (who made a late push) or Texas (The Rangers were in from the get-go). Arlington also has a perceived “jet stream” and Denver has that thin air.
But there’s also a couple of charts from Fangraphs. Both are for the 2013 season only.
First, park factors. For home runs, Yankee Stadium ranked tied fourth with a 110. Turner Field is at 97. Of note, Coors Field was atop the list at 113 while Rangers Ballpark was 107.
Next was handedness park factor. Again, Coors Field was number one (115), but Yankee Stadium was tied for second with Camden Yards (114). Turner Field: 100.
Obviously, none of these “theories” or thoughts are guaranteed. McCann must still perform.
For the longevity of the deal, it would be simple to say that McCann is more suited for the American League. He will turn 30 before the 2014 season begins. If the sixth year does vest, he will be 35 by its end, 34 if it only goes five years. Catching is a physically demanding position, and it was be a shock if McCann were to remain the everyday catcher throughout the term of the deal. Especially if he plays in the Bronx for that sixth year.
But New York holds a luxury (aside from money) that the Rockies wouldn’t have had: they can still utilize his bat for 162 games. That whole DH thing.