With the news Brian McCann has returned to the Braves, here is a fond Houston goodbye to the veteran catcher.
If you’re a fan of the Astros, it is time to properly bid farewell to one of the key veteran fixtures from the past two seasons. The next time we see McCann up close at Minute Maid Park might occur at the ten-year reunion of the 2017 championship squad. At least he gets to go home for the 2019 season.
Although his time as an Astro was relatively short (2017-18), McCann will remain in Houston lore for quite some time. After all, he did help lead the Astros to their only World Series title in 2017. His acquisition following the 2016 season may go down as one of Jeff Luhnow’s best, despite the continued decline in offensive production. The need for a proven veteran catcher with a superb ability to handle a pitching staff was likely more important than his offensive capabilities, anyway. Oh, also his defense as I didn’t want to forget that rather significant tidbit. Perhaps the Braves viewed him the same way this offseason, even if you remove the obvious feel-good aspect of his signing.
Fortunately for Houston, McCann was originally available via trade due to Gary Sanchez‘s incredible emergence in the later half of the 2016 season with the Yankees. Don’t forget that the Yankees were entering a widely perceived rebuilding year in 2017. The whole situation ended as slightly ironic as McCann originally signed with New York to have a shot at a championship prior to the 2014 season. The Astros, in the end, eliminated the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS before earning their first World Series title against the Dodgers. Funny how the stars aligned on this one.
When one reminisces about McCann’s brief stop in Houston, remember him as a right player at the best time. With the Astros’ historic offense in 2017, there was little reason to lean heavily on the veteran catcher’s bat. Now, to avoid confusion, he did produce as an offensive player as he has a 97 OPS+ (100 represents league-average) despite various injuries that kept him sideline for most of 2018. But his ability to handle a pitching staff and play a respectable defense behind the plate isn’t easily forgotten.
So, I wish you a fond goodbye, Brian McCann. You probably don’t know who I am, and likely don’t care, but I feel I should extend some kind sentiment to you. Not only did you fulfill your contractural obligation to the Astros, you also earned a World Series ring. I am quite thankful for your contributions as you were enjoyable to watch, although I am not sure half the time if it was you or now-former teammate Evan Gattis. Those beards threw everyone for a loop. I can’t speak for how long you’d wish to continue playing, however, you get to go out on your terms. There is a certain level of accomplishment in that aspect, right?