Lately many in the media have begun getting somewhat impatient with Brian McCann. The highly praised off-season acquisition has started slowly at the plate in 2014; hitting just .222 with 7 home runs through 44 games.
Upon his signing, some of us (me included) compared McCann’s style of play to that of my all-time favorite player – Thurman Munson. Certainly his power and grit were reminiscent of the late, great Yankee captain.
After a few quick “cups of coffee” with the likes of Russell Martin and Chris Stewart, it seemed that we had finally gotten back to the great catching tradition set by Dickey, Berra, Howard, Munson, and Posada.
We should not be so quick to dismiss our comparisons.
Casey, founder and life-force behind BYB, often fondly reflects (rightly so) on Posada’s accomplishments in pinstripes. He also laments (again, rightly so) that Jorge’s career is puzzlingly overlooked when fans recall backstops like Berra and Munson.
So, using Munson as our point of comparison, let’s have some fun and see just who is most representative of the great number 15 – McCann or Posada?
To do so, I wanted to pick a similar point in each catcher’s career. Since McCann is in his 10th season, I decided to select the 10th year in the careers of both Munson and Posada to compare. It should be noted that Munson batted exclusively from the right side of the plate, McCann exclusively from the left, and Posada was a switch-hitter.
Our yardstick – Munson – batted .297 with six home runs and 71 RBIs over 154 games in 1978, his tenth year.
Posada hit .272 with 21 home runs and 81 RBI in 2004; his tenth season.
Clearly both had very productive seasons a decade into their careers.
McCann’s tenth season isn’t complete, so we only have the first full month to use in comparison – which at first glance would lead us to believe he’s got nothing on Munson.
But, let’s look a little more closely at both Munson and Posada’s seasons.
In April / March of 1978, Thurman Munson hit .239 with no home runs and four RBI. Yeah, you read that correctly.
During April/March of 2004, Jorge Posada hit .290 with eight home runs and 21 RBI. Wow.
1978, of course, was the year of the Bucky-bleeping-Dent (as Red Sox fans lovingly refer to our former shortstop) home run and the six-game World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2004, on the other hand, was the year of the dramatic comeback of the Red Sox over our Yankees in the ALCS. We’ll speak no further about it.
So, what’s the bottom line?
The bottom line is that we need to put the torches and pitchforks that we are parading around Brian McCann down. This season is still in the early stages – only a little more than a quarter of the schedule is complete. Let’s give him a chance.
One need only look at Munson’s 1978 season to realize that the year is a marathon – not a sprint- and it is all about how you finish, not how you start.
Sorry Casey, Jorge was just too damn good in April to compare him to Munson. In this “who’s more like Thurman?” competition, the early results suggest McCann.
--Steve Skinner, BYB Writer
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