Brian McCann

Came up in June when Estrada and Perez were both out, promoted straight from AA. Brian rapidly passed Brayan Pena as the regular when Estrada was out, and outplayed the latter when he returned, taking the majority of the catching duties. John Smoltz in particular was a fan of him as a reciever and more or less adopted him as his personal catcher even when Estrada was at his healthiest.

McCann was terrific in June, hitting for a very high average with some power. He slumped badly in July, but recovered in August and September, where his percentages were in the middle of that range — not coincidentally, right about how he finished for the season. In a down year for catching in the NL, he was probably better offensively than any regular catcher in the league, his final line being .278/.345/.400. He hit very well against lefties (.333/.385/.556) but in only 36 at-bats. Defensively, he’s still a work in progress. He seemed to block the plate well (a big problem for Estrada after the Erstad Incident) but couldn’t control the running game (though he was better than Pena).

With Estrada traded, the Braves have committed to McCann as their regular catcher in 2006. A sophomore slump would hurt the team a lot, but I don’t really expect one. Long-term, I like McCann a lot. 21-year-old catchers who can hold their own in AA are valuable commodities. Ones who can hold their own in the majors are precious commodities. When Ivan Rodriguez was 21, he hit .273/.315/.412. When Mike Piazza was 21, he hit .250/.279/.390 — in the Florida State League. Every trade the Braves pursued this year seemingly had the other team asking for McCann and quickly being laughed at.

He might stall out, which happens to catchers, but if he just hits like he did last year he’d be a plus at the position. Another possibility is that he’ll get moved off catcher by the rise of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and move to first base. In that case, he might become a much better hitter. Some people compared him to Carlos Delgado in the minors; that’s a pretty tall order, but he’s a good hitter. Hits some homers a long way and has as much raw power as anyone in the organization, not excepting Andruw Jones or Jeff Francoeur. Slugging .487 in Myrtle Beach at age 20 — as McCann did in 2004 — is a major accomplishment. Then Saltalamacchia came through slugging .519 at the same age… If he stays a catcher, McCann might not get any better as a hitter and still wind up second all-time (behind Yogi) for homers by a lefthanded-hitting catcher.

Brian McCann Statistics –
Brian McCann – Baseball Statistics – Biography, Minor League Stats and Baseball Cards

16 thoughts on “Brian McCann”

  1. Who is #2 in HRs for lefty hitting catchers and how many HRs is that?

    I couldnt find a way to figure that out on BBRef

  2. I also think McCann may be resistant to a sophomore slump, due in part to the fact that he hits the ball with such authority. Agree that his raw power appears to match Francouer, but not quite willing to compare his power to Andruw’s. The first base idea is intriguing.

    I’d love to see that list of southpaw catcher HRs….

  3. I took forever trying to find a list just for catchers, and now I don’t know where it is. All catchers throw righthanded, of course, and most people who throw righthanded hit righthanded or switch-hit.

    Here’s the catcher list.

    Simmons and Tettleton were switch hitters. All the other leaders (I’d guess that’s every catcher with more than 200 homers) except Yogi were righthanded hitters. 200 homers isn’t a whole lot in today’s game.

  4. Joe Mauer is lefthanded, but (a) hasn’t hit for as much power as McCann yet, or didn’t in the minors anyway, (b) is a year older than McCann, and (c) is unlikely to be a career catcher.

  5. Javy hit 12 HR as a catcher last year, meaning he’s passed Hartnett and Campanella for 8th on the all-time list. How about that! He could catch IRod for 7th. Right now it’s 258-240 in IRod’s favor, and he is a year younger than Javy, but he’s also got a LOT more miles on him (1811-1313 in games at catcher), and less power. Go Javy!

  6. What is the normal growth curve for a catcher? That is, how much better can Brian McCann be reasonably expected to get, and when will he start to fall off dramatically? JC, if you could fill me in with some statistical information, I’d really appreciate it.

    Also, what are the odds that he’ll be moved to another position, and is he athletic enough to make the change?

  7. I just finished wading through 260 posts on USS Mariner from an article Dave Cameron did analyzing a Jeremy Reed for Sox Pitching Prospects potential trade. Apparently, the way to attract traffic to one’s baseball-related website is to write an article that suggests Jonathan Papelbon and Jonathan Lester are not already better now than Pedro Martinez was in his prime. Mac – make it happen!

  8. Hmm… let me try that theory out.

    Jon Papelbon and Jon Lester are not already better now than Knucksie Niekro, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, or Greg Maddux were in their primes.

    However, Papelbon and Lester are definitely better than Satoru Komiyama, the former Met whom Bobby Valentine called “the Greg Maddux of Japan.”

  9. Javy wont be playing catcher for Baltimore this year with the addition of Ramon Hernandez and the tendering of Geromo Gil. He’ll be the DH, and maybe 1B in NL parks.

  10. I like McCann a lot more than the other Baby Braves (except Marte — sniff). I expect Francoeur will always be more popular, but McCann will be the better player, in terms of peak at least.

  11. I wrote an email to IJ Rosenberg (remember him?) back in ’98 or ’99 where I thought Javy Lopez (whom he’d left out of an article on catcher with Hall of Fame chances) would be more successful going forward than Piazza or IRod. That was silly, and he mocked me for it — but right now, Javy probably has more left in the tank than either, and he’s certainly had the best career as a catcher other than those guys from the guys active then. He might hit 350 homers, and there aren’t many catchers with .290 career batting averages. He’s played 14 seasons and been at or above league average as a hitter in 11. The top four guys comparable to him through Age 34 are all in the Hall of Fame (Hartnett, Fisk, Campanella, Lombardi — his most-comparable has been Hartnett or Fisk since he was 25). He’s probably not a Hall of Famer, because these numbers aren’t as impressive now as they were in those guys’ times, but he’s in that Lance Parrish class, the guys right after them.

  12. The thought so far seems to be that Saltalamacchia will transition to 1B if he continues to hit as he has, and McCann will stay put at C. Wonder why that is…is Salty any good defensively as a catcher?

  13. Speaking of sophomore slump, much sophomore, much care. Everyone who knows the Braves praise our farm system highly but as for me, the prospect ranking is of little importance. Many rookies were friendly rivals in the last season. Competition in good faith obtained the desired results. It’s a sort of the synergy effect. I hope our guys break the sophomore jinx.

  14. 1 or 2 guys might be affected but most of them want….we have way to many 2nd yr players for that to happen…That would be higly unprobable…..

    Salty needs to be moved to 1B less wear on tear on his body…I’m a huge McCann fan….but Salty is a guy who might one day be our cleanup hitter once Chipper is gone……

  15. I actually have a question in to mailbag asking if the Braves are considering moving Saltalamacchia to 1B. He’s a bit taller than McCann, 6’4″ vs. 6’3″. I’m not sure about his defense/arm although it seems that I read that one of the things he was doing in the AFL was working on his defense.

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