Should James McCann stay the starting Catcher?

Alex Avila has just started his rehab strengthing his left knee muscles with the hope of returning to the Tigers line up sometime over the next six weeks.  When he is healthy enough to play the question going through Manager Brad Ausmus‘ mind should be, “Do I sit James McCann“?

Tabbed the back up to start the season, McCann was thrust into the starting line up as the everyday catcher when Avila went out with a knee injury.  Tigers have posted a 7-6 record since Avila went out and own  a 14-9 record when McCann is behind the plate.  Earlier this week McCann made a big splash when he hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the eleventh giving him 2 dramatic career home runs.  With McCann behind the plate, the Tigers defense at catcher and pitch calling has not missed a beat.  The Tigers have only given up 5 or more runs four time over the twelve games McCann has started.  McCann has caught 41.2% of would be base stealers compared to Avila’s 33.3%, while not allowing a past ball or making an error.  McCann’s only early downside on the defensive end is that he holds a 3.15 CERA, (catchers earned run average), compared to Avila’s 3.85 CERA.

While McCann and Avila may be pretty even on the defensive end.  It has been the offensive end where McCann has been a welcome relief.  After last nights game, McCann has raised his average to .299, while hitting .327 through the month of May.  Not to mention that he has posted a .364 OBP which is 20 points higher than Avila.  Not only has his boost in offensive production helped the offense, but his youth and energy seems to be a welcome surprise for the offense.  He has a good hitters eye with only 18 strike outs in 87 at bats compared to Avila’s 21 strike outs in 60 at bats.  While McCann seems to be a contact hitter, he is getting on base more for the bottom of the and giving the Tigers more opportunities to score runs.

We can only hope that McCann’s small sampling of offense will continue to trend in the right direction for the Tigers making them think real long and hard about putting Avila back in the line up on a daily basis.

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