Detroit Tigers: Is James McCann still the long-term solution behind the plate?
If not James McCann, than who?
In the event that James McCann isn’t the long-term solution behind the plate for the Detroit Tigers, than who would take over?
The most ready-made option is John Hicks, who like McCann is 27.
Hicks took CC Sabathia deep for a three-run shot in Tuesday’s win, and has generally provided solid offensive production in limited playing time for Detroit this season.
In 73 plate appearances, Hicks has accumulated 15 RBI, 12 runs scored, four home runs and a stolen base.
He’s also notched a 132 wRC+, a .370 wOBA and a .257 ISO to go along with a .300 batting average, a .329 on-base percentage, a .557 slugging percentage and a .876 OPS.
It obviously remains to be seen whether Hicks can maintain some of those numbers given more plate appearances, but he clearly has the ability to do some damage at the plate.
Hicks is actually a better pitch framer (-0.4 RAA, 0.67 calls against him per game) than McCann in a much smaller sample size.
Similar to his offense, it remains to be seen if those stats are sustainable, but Hicks shows promise nonetheless.
Further down the road
Recent draft pick Sam McMillan looks like a solid bet to eventually succeed McCann. However, he’s just 18 and is only beginning his minor league career in the Gulf Coast League.
Detroit went way over slot value to sign the fifth-round pick out of high school, so they’re clearly invested in and believe in him.
The Tigers have other backstops further up the organizational ladder, but many of them appear to be defensive-first types who don’t make a massive impact (relatively speaking) on offense. These catchers include Joey Morgan, Arvicent Perez and Grayson Greiner.
Greiner is the closets of the group to the Majors. He’s hitting .245 with a .779 OPS at Double-A Erie, but isn’t tested at Triple-A and is already 24.