The Houston Astros may have only their third representative catcher at the 2017 All-Star game!
For the past two seasons, the AL catching depth has been rather weak regarding All-Star worthy players. When it was time to vote for the All-Star catchers, Astros fans couldn’t find a reason to vote for Jason Castro for the All-Star game. You have the few fans who vote straight ticket Astros, but others don’t follow the approach of Royals fans.
While the Royals were good for a few years, there were certain players not worthy of those votes. The only Royals player to get my vote was Salvador Perez, who was the best All-Around catcher in the AL at the time.
Historical Astros All-Star catcher
Castro was the lone representative at the 2013 All-Star game in 2013. That season, Castro batted .276 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. He had a 4.5 WAR that season for a team that finished losing 111 games that year. As I wrote earlier, the catching position has never been a great strength for the Houston Astros organization.
In 54 years of All-Star games, the Astros have only had one other All-Star worthy catcher. This player was also the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame as an Astro. Of course, I am referring to Craig Biggio, who was an All-Star catcher in 1991. That year, Biggio batted .295 while hitting four homers and 19 stolen bases as a catcher. The next year, Biggio became the second baseman, and the rest is history.
Enter Brian McCann!
While with the Braves, Brian McCann participated in seven All-Star games in nine years. He was the Buster Posey of baseball during that period. Or would it be the Gary Sanchez of baseball, either way, McCann was an elite catcher. Then he went to the Yankees, where he changed his swing to try to take advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium. While he did bat .232 with 26 homers and 94 RBIs in 2015, he was not the same hitter with the Yankees.
Last year, Sanchez invaded the Yankees lineup making McCann available via trade. McCann waived his no-trade clause to be traded to the Astros to be the starting catcher. The Stros traded Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman to the Yankees. Don’t forget that the Yankees are also paying $5.5 million dollars of McCann’s salary for 2017-2018.
Even with Evan Gattis back to catching, the Stros needed a full-time catcher. Gattis has shown himself worthy but being part of a platoon better suits his talents. Sanchez’s rise last year made the Astros a better team. In fact, one could argue that McCann is the best catcher in the American League. Has he done enough to garner All-Star consideration?
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This season, McCann has reverted back to the offensive presence he was with the Braves for all those years. He has a slash line of .281/ .381/ .479/ .860, while hitting six homers and driving in 21 runs. Unfortunately, Perez is putting up a fight with his last place Royals. In about 30 more at-bats than McCann, Perez has a slash line of .283/ .326/ .504/ .830, while hitting seven homers and driving in 21 runs.
Regarding WAR, McCann has the slight edge with a 1.1 WAR compared to Perez’s 1.0. McCann is also demonstrating a better eye with a 16 to 14 walk to strikeout ratio. Perez has a 7 to 25 walk to strikeout rate. I’m sure KC fans will be stuffing the ballots, but Perez has legitimate competition this year.
The presence of Gattis may hurt McCann’s All-Star chances, but it makes for a legendary catcher duo. This potentially could be the best in the history of the Astros. Don’t forget to vote once a day, five times per email address, for your qualified Astros All-Stars. This could be a season where the Stros have the most players on the All-Star team. Don’t forget about today’s doubleheader.
Listen to Talking Stros between the doubleheader today on Sports Talk 790 on iHeart Radio.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB.com***