Brian McCann To Rebound in 2013

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Friday, February. 15/2013

Brian McCann has established himself as one of the best offensive Catchers in the game, but will he be able to hold such a title? An injury to his right shoulder seemed to derail his 2012 campaign, but after having surgery in October he is poised to get back to his old ways.

Brian McCann has established himself as one of the best offensive Catchers in the game, but will he be able to hold such a title? An injury to his right shoulder seemed to derail his 2012 campaign, but after having surgery in October he is poised to get back to his old ways.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer):

Brian McCann, Catcher for the Atlanta Braves, has had a great amount of success playing baseball in Georgia his whole life — but could he finally be leaving the Peach State following the 2013 MLB season? McCann was born in Athens Georgia, went to Duluth High School in Duluth Georgia, and currently resides in Lawrenceville Georgia while playing baseball in nearby Atlanta. McCann hasn’t strayed far from his roots to this point in his life. He was drafted out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2002 MLB Draft by his hometown Braves, but his current contract with the team is up after the 2013 season. The Braves just invested a lot of money in the Upton brothers, and may not be so eager to throw a bunch of money at an offensive-minded Catcher whose production at the plate was the worst of his career in 2012. Add in the fact that they have a highly regarded Catching prospect named Christian Bethancourt – who may be ready to contribute to the big club by the start of 2014, or soon thereafter.

There is also Evan Gattis who, while most likely not a threat to steal McCann’s job behind the dish, could be a part of replacing him if need be. So while McCann is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and a career worst season at the plate, he needs to show the Braves, or any other potential suitor for that matter, that he is still a major asset to any lineup and will be for years to come.

McCann’s accolades are quite impressive for a soon to be 29 Year old. McCann reached the Majors in 2005 at just 21 Years of Age, and never looked back. He is a 6 time All-Star (2006-2011), and 5 time Silver Slugger (2006, 2008-2011). He is a career .279/.351/.475 hitter who has averaged 22 HRs and 83 RBI per year since his 1st full season in 2006. Prior to last season he had never hit less than .269 and never had an OPS of less than .772. Last season McCann hit .230/.300/.399 giving him an OPS of only .698. He added 20 HRs and 67 RBI, but overall his numbers were not what you would expect from Brian McCann.

2012 Brian McCann Highlights – Mature Lyrics may be present  so Parental Guidance is advised:

Since 2006 McCann leads Major League Catchers with 151 HR and 581 RBI.

Since 2006 – McCann leads Major League Catchers with 151 HR and 581 RBI.

McCann’s struggles at the plate were clear in 2012. His numbers weren’t terrible, but they were considerably worse than that of his backup. David Ross, who signed with the Red Sox this winter, had a superior slash line in all 3 categories in 2012, albeit in a smaller sample size. Ross hit .256/.321/.449, which is outstanding production for a backup Catcher. I think everyone is expecting McCann to bounce back and perform considerably better than he did in 2012, but how much better does he need to play to for the Braves to invest in him long-term? As I almost always do when thinking about how a player will perform in the future, I look at Bill James’ projections as a starting point.

James projects McCann to hit .266/.347/.467 in 2013 – with 23 HRs and 84 RBI, which is nearly his career averages across the board. McCann’s days of winning Silver Sluggers at the Catchers spot in the NL might be over with the emergence of Buster Posey (who had an incredible 2012 campaign) – and Yadier Molina who has started to prove he’s has more than just a golden glove to contribute to his Cardinals. Nonetheless if McCann can hit like James projects, Braves fans will be plenty satisfied with their Catcher. Players playing in contract years always seem to step up and perform, so I think McCann will put forth a very good campaign in 2013, along the lines of his career averages like James projects. My concern for McCann in 2012 wouldn’t be about his offense as much as it would be about his defense.

Brian McCann has never been a stud defensively, but he’s got the job done for the most part. Like always, a Catcher who can hit will be able to cover up for a multitude of sins on defense. McCann’s career DRS is -11, which is below average, but not outrageous in any sense. His Caught Stealing % over his career is 24% which is far from great. The problem is, it has the potential to get even worse if there are any lingering effects from his recent shoulder injury. More important than Caught Stealing % is how often a Catcher lets up a Stolen Base which takes into consideration how often runners will test a given Catcher. McCann let up an SB about once every 13 Innings last year. Like most of McCann’s defense, it is not among the worst in the game, but it is far from being a compliment to what he can do offensively.

I brought up how McCann’s shoulder could be a problem to his defense in 2013, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that it could also hinder his offensive performance too as it did in 2012. To say that his shoulder was the sole excuse for his declining performance in 2012 would be overly presumptive, but to say that it wasn’t part of the problem would be negligent.

McCann has never been known for his defense, but he's good enough to stay back there without costing the team. Here he is sporting some glasses specially made to go under his catchers mask

McCann has never been known for his defense, but he’s good enough to stay back there without costing the team. Here he is sporting some glasses specially made to go under his catcher’s mask.

I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that McCann has had some vision problems in the past. He was bothered by blurry vision in 2009 after a slight vision change following LASIK eye surgery in 2007. The problem was addressed within a month or so by getting special wraparound glasses from Oakley. This should be a non-factor now, but is just another thing to keep an eye on with McCann, no pun intended.

While having a good season is important for McCann’s chances of getting a deal done with the Braves beyond 2013, it is also important for his value to all teams. Even though McCann has basically lived within a few towns of Atlanta his whole life, it may be wise for him to part ways with the city/franchise in the end. His value to an American League team is probably much greater than any National League team at this point. McCann is known for his bat, which is why he could be a valuable member of an AL ball club. He has the ability to give you average defense from the Catchers position if you need it, but he could also profile as one of the best DH’s in the game.

Only 6 Catchers topped 120 games behind the dish in 2012, meaning McCann could throw on the gear and give a team those 40+ games they need to relieve their regular Catcher when McCann isn’t DHing. McCann nearly reached the 120 game mark himself in 2012 catching 114 games, so he could conceivably catch the bulk of the games and use the DH spot to give him an off-day from the field too if that fits a teams need. 2013 has all the makings of a return to normalcy for Brian McCann. I expect it, the Braves expect it, Bill James expects it, and I’m sure Brian himself expects it. I’m not saying 2013 will be McCann’s best season yet, but I will say with conviction that he will make any non believers look foolish with another highly productive year for the Braves. McCann will rebound in 2013, you can be confident in that.

With Chipper Jones finally retiring, McCann is the longest tenured Brave along with Tim Hudson. A great season from McCann would certainly ease the pain of losing an All-Time great, fan favorite, and class act in Chipper Jones.

With Chipper Jones finally retiring, McCann is the longest tenured Brave (along with Tim Hudson). A great season from McCann would certainly ease the pain of losing an All-Time great, fan favorite, and class act in Chipper Jones.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A big thank-you goes out to our baseball writer Ryan Dana for preparing today’s featured article.  Ryan is junior studying physical education with a concentration in coaching at Bridgewater State University. He has been playing baseball since he was 7 and coaching since he was 14. Ryan wants to be a college baseball coach once he graduates.  Ryan is, and always will be, a diehard Boston Red Sox fan. Secondary to baseball, he is a big health and fitness enthusiast.  You can find Ryan on Twitter. .  

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Posted on February 15, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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