James McCann’s breakthrough season for the White Sox earns All-Star consideration

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 03: James McCann #33 of the Chicago White Sox hits a run scoring single in the 8th inning against the Boston Red Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 03, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Most of the progress made on the roster has come from within their farm system, but the man behind the plate for a lot of the 2019 season is an exception.

James McCann was picked up on a one-year, $2.5 million deal before the season to provide some depth at catcher. Now two-and-a-half months into the season, he’s the closest position player on the White Sox to earning an All-Star start.

In the first fan vote released by Major League Baseball on Monday, McCann was ranked just second at the catcher position for the American League, sitting just behind the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez, who appeared in the All-Star Game in 2017.

It’s the closest the White Sox have to a starter so far, with Jose Abreu currently third among first baseman while shortstop Tim Anderson is fourth at the shortstop position. Their ranking might have been expected before the season, but McCann’s is quite a surprise.

The catcher has hit .328 with four homers and 15 RBI, and has been behind the plate to help starter Lucas Giolito in his incredible turnaround in the 2019 season. Safe to say that things are working about as well as Rick Hahn might have hoped for when he signed the catcher from Detroit.

Solid behind the plate, the catcher hit just .220 in 118 games with the Tigers in 2018, sporting only a .267 on-base percentage with eight homers and 39 RBI. But things changed when he put on a White Sox uniform immediately, hitting .367 in 49 playoff appearances with a .415 on-base percentage during that.

It didn’t slow much in May as McCann hit .338 with two homers and 7 RBI.

Perhaps just as important, McCann has been behind the plate for the remarkable turnaround of Giolito. He’s been behind the plate for every one of his starts in 2019 as the starter has broken through with a 9-1 record and a 2.28 ERA.

Giolito figures to be a leading candidate to start for the American League in the All-Star Game July 9th in Cleveland. That would have seemed improbable based on last year, just like McCann being one of the leading position players for the White Sox in the fan voting.

But sometimes there is a surprise, and it’s nice for the player behind the plate for the White Sox

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