Baltimore Orioles 2023 in review: Good, but not perfect for James McCann

Several key attributes outweighed James McCann's flaws in a year where he proved to be a strong backup catcher for the Orioles
Sep 23, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher James McCann (27) scores in the sixth
Sep 23, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher James McCann (27) scores in the sixth / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

James McCann was brought in to be the backup catcher if Adley Rutschman needed a breather from squatting behind the plate. Instead, the veteran was able to establish himself as a commodity that Brandon Hyde loved to utilize.

Appearing in a total of 70 games in 2023, McCann played a much larger role than many had expected. Rutschman was allowed more time to rest and even batted as a DH in many instances. All thanks to how well his backup fit into the role.

How did James McCann's 2023 season pan out?

Baserunning: A-

Not the most important aspect of a catcher, McCann still impressed on the basepaths in 2023. His three stolen bases out of only four attempts and fourteen doubles are the most in his career since 2019 with the White Sox.

Those who thought McCann being over the age of 30 would eliminate any threat of his speed were proven wrong. He might not have been close to a premier baserunner for the O's, but he took advantage of the opportunities given to him.

Batting: C-

The only highlight, arguably, of McCann's 2023 season at the plate was that he improved on 2022's .195 average. Last year, he posted a .222 average with a measly nine walks, the second-lowest of his career.

McCann's six home runs were double what he smacked in 2022. However, a .269 OBP was third-lowest in his career. The veteran can rest easy though, knowing that his bat was not the main reason why the Orioles brought him over.

Fielding: B+

McCann gunned down 34% of attempted base stealers. Not all-star level numbers, but not every backup catcher puts up those numbers. It was also a sizeable improvement from 2022's 24% rate in the same category.

For direct fielding percentage, McCann posted a 99+%, as most catchers do. He only committed three errors in over 160 innings behind the plate. 22 assists and 472 putouts complete the right-hander's defensive statistics.

Off-Field Contributions: A+

A veteran presence made McCann an unmissable presence among the squad's pitchers and catchers. Hyde said “He is willing to share information, and he communicates so well with our guys," per a Jake Rill article.

McCann helped guide Rutschman through a taxing year of baseball. The Birds did not start the season like a team that would go on to get 101 wins, but thanks to all that their backup catcher contributed, Baltimore was able to host a playoff game for the first time since 2014.