Brian, the best catcher in baseball, was finally starting to get some recognition of that status and was seemingly on his way to his best season when he suffered the ever-popular strained oblique muscle in late July. He returned after missing just a couple of weeks, but wasn’t nearly the same hitter as usual, hitting just .180/.292/.346 after his return. A lot of that looks, statistically, like bad luck, but observation indicates that he really was messed up, though whether it was lingering injury or mechanics — or both — is beyond my ken.
At any rate, he’s still the best catcher in baseball and the best player on the team, and even a month and a half of substandard play only reduced his season numbers to a bit worse than his usual. You don’t really want to have to build your offense around a catcher, since he’s going to miss at least a game a week, but that’s not his fault. The Braves’ problem in 2011 wasn’t McCann; it was that Heyward didn’t play well and Uggla sucked the life out of the offense in the first half. With those guys not helping, it put too much pressure on Mr. Reliable to perform, and when he wasn’t available or wasn’t right, the team didn’t have enough left to adjust.
Defensively, he threw out only 22 percent of opposing baserunners and Braves pitchers were charged with 44 wild pitches with him behind the plate. These are both poor rates, coming off a pretty good year (particularly on the latter part) in 2010. On the other hand, a study indicates that he’s probably the best catcher around when it comes to framing pitches. I’d rather have the latter than a guy who throws out lots of baserunners.