We are watching what could be the best catching duo in Houston Astros history.
This concept is not a new concept. I wrote about this before the season starting. The history of Houston Astros catchers has not been filled with legendary players. One former catcher did make the Hall of Fame, but he was known most for playing second base. Of course, I’m referring to Craig Biggio.
There are some household names such as Alan Ashby, Brad Ausmus, Jason Castro, and Tony Eusebio. Then you have the what could have been in Mitch Meluskey! Outside of Biggio, none of them had big offensive careers. Ausmus is known mostly as the guy who hit the game-tying homer in the 2005 playoffs in the game the Astros won in 18 innings.
Ausmus went on to become the manager of the Detroit Tigers. Before the 2017 season, which Astros team had the best catching duo in history. In February, I wrote that “the best I could find is Mark Bailey and Alan Ashby in 1985 or Biggio and Alex Trevino in 1989.” While it’s not rocket science, the 2017 combination of Brian McCann and Evan Gattis has not disappointed.
A look at the Astros catching duo!
Gattis has been on the team since 2015 when he was acquired from the Atlanta Braves. The first year, he was solely a designated hitter with Houston. However, last year the Astros needed a backup catcher for Castro and Erik Kratz wasn’t hitting his weight. Gattis caught with the Braves, so fans were surprised how well Gattis picked catching back up.
The one complaint about Gattis last year was that he hit better as catcher versus a designated hitter. As a catcher, he hit .295 with an OPS of .992 while hitting 19 homers. While serving as the designated hitter, Gattis hit .219 with an OPS of .708 while hitting 13 homers. This is not the case this year as Gattis’s stats are relatively even.
Overall this year, Gattis is tied for the best batting average on the team with a .304 average and OPS of .879. He has hit three homers and with 16 homers, including a big homer yesterday to extend the Astros one-run lead.
McCann was acquired from the New York Yankees this offseason to add a veteran left-handed hitter to the lineup. McCann has been an offensive catalyst this season batting .294 with five homers and 18 RBIs. His .878 OPS is a welcome sight after watching Castro struggle the past two seasons offensively. Gary Sanchez made McCann expendable for the Yankees but was a perfect fit for the Astros.
The show must go on.
While throwing water in his face after a homer is not his thing, he enjoys winning. He has also adjusted his hitting approach to hitting better at Minute Maid Park. McCann has also gone away from trying to hit a homer every at bat to making better contact. They are both under contract through at least 2018.
Gattis and McCann have an offensive WAR of 0.6 and 1.2 respectively. After 32 games, this duo is looking great. It’s a long season, but these two should combine for a high WAR this year. Part of the many reasons this team is 21-11 at this point.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***