Brian McCann

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.

Brian McCann Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

91 thoughts on “Brian McCann”

  1. I’d rather have the latter than a guy who throws out lots of baserunners.

    I suspect it’s probably a wash, although it’s nice to see a particular defensive talent of McCann’s being appreciated.

    According to the article, McCann’s framing of pitches is worth about an extra win per season, maybe one and a half. I can believe it. A very small thing repeated 15000 to 20000 times can add up to a significant contribution.

    On the other hand, he’s giving up an extra 15 bases on CS% per year, plus 10-12 more just on volume of SB attempts by emboldened baserunners. Our sinkerball staff probably contributes to the WP numbers, but say McCann allows another extra 10-12 bases on the WP rate. Now we’re in the neighborhood of 40 bases he gives back, which is worth in the neighborhood of the 1.5 wins he was saving.

    But hey, if that adds up to McCann being an average defensive catcher, well, that’s better than his reputation in some circles.

  2. It seems like he was getting better at throwing out runners as the season went on.

    I think David Ross has been a great influence on his work behind the plate.

  3. Brian McCann is awesome. He’s not Mike Piazza with the bat, and he’s not Benito Santiago with the glove/arm. But he’s the best catcher in the game right now, and the Braves really need to not waste his career by not being able to find better OF alternatives than Melky Cabrerra and Matt Diaz.

    “Beyond my ken” is one of my favorite phrases ever.

  4. Would it be wise for a cash strapped team to invest into a longterm deal with Bmac? I dont know how they can afford $15-18mil per season, I also dont know if he’d accept that amount. He may want a Mauer type deal. Im a huge fan of BMac, but the Braves seem to like Bethancourt too.

  5. Every old school and sabremetric analysis screams that the Braves should be playing David Ross more often – ESPECIALLY in interleague play where we gain Ross’ defense (and hitting) without sacrificing McCann’s bat.

    A nearly criminal waste of a scarce resource.

  6. I’ve always wondered why Ross doesn’t catch exclusively during interleague play and McCann DHs. Interleague is during the summer, which would make sense to get McCann as much rest as possible.

    With Ross being easily the best backup catcher in the league, I wish they would be more creative with how they handle the roster. Call up a back-up catcher, let Ross catch, McCann DH, and work it however an AL team does that has a DH-only type player (one less reliever, back-up infielder, etc.).

    I bet it helps that McCann isn’t as athletic as Joe Mauer, because it makes the conversations shorter about McCann moving positions. Mauer has been linked to third and right field, and there’s no way we’re putting McCann out there.

  7. @7 Because Fredi also needed to give Chipper some rest.

    “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.”

    Mac, I have been thinking the same thing for couple years. Thought the problem was solved with Uggla’s acquisition and another year of Heyward…

  8. I think a bit more rest for McCann would help him avoid injuries. He pinch hit for Ross a few times and the game went extra innings too. Just the threat of McCann would keep opposing managers from using some RH relief pitchers in certain situations.

  9. @8,

    Not only that but a catcher takes such a pounding that you expect him to wear down later in the season-especially playing outdoors in Atlanta. And a catcher can’t stand around thinking about his hitting like an outfielder can. The only catchers I can think of that were really the cornerstones of the team offensively were Piazza and maybe Johnny Bench early in his career–but Bench obviously had a lot of help and even he tailed off later. Piazza was just a freak. Even guys like Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella weren’t the best players on the team.

  10. On the subject of Jordan Rodgers (responding to ububba in the previous thread), as I said months ago, I would not be at all surprised if Rodgers is not the starting QB next season. Carta-Samuels, I’ve heard, is super-legit.

    Frustrating bowl loss, but still a very exciting time for VU football fans.

  11. Georgia’s defense is better than I realized. Michigan State actually has a pretty good offense – much respect for shutting down B.J. Cunningham (so far).

  12. He’s so terrible they named him player of the game.

    No, they changed their minds and gave it to Alshon.

  13. Well they get mad if you don’t give them to somebody. 11/17? Yeah – he’s a monster. And Ga is trying to blow it. to MSU.

  14. You said he was terrible. 11/17 for 229 yards, 2 TDs and no turnovers is hardly terrible. He’s certainly better than Garcia.

  15. He was terrible. 51 of those yards came on a BS hail mary – if you want to credit that to some skill, you’re welcome to. He was painfully slow, and couldn’t throw worth a damn all day. 4-13 on third downs = terrible.

  16. He did escape a sack on the Hail Mary, so it wasn’t complete luck. Also, he runs a 4.5 40, which is excellent for a QB.

    He completed about 66% of his passes this year with a 14/6 TD to INT ratio in his first half of a season starting. He’s pretty solid.

  17. Well, Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra each won three MVPs — and from 1950 to 1956, Berra finished in the top four of the MVP voting every single year. Rightly or wrongly, the voters perceived him as not just the best player on his team, but arguably the best player in the league.

    When you say that Yogi and Campy weren’t the best players on their teams, I’m guessing you’re implying that it was Mickey and the Duke, but at the very least I think the point is debatable. Yogi and Campy weren’t the absolute best players in New York — that would be Willie Mays — but they were very likely the most valuable players in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

  18. Yogi also played some outfield.

    I’d pay double the standard ticket price if they’d run Brian McCann out in LF one game. It would make Todd Hundley look graceful.

  19. This link sort of got lost at the end of the last thread. I love this sort of dorkery.

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/homegrown

    Atlanta ranks 2nd (behind the ARod led Mariners) for all-homegrown talent. The rotation and infield is stacked, but the OF is, you guessed it, somewhat wanting. Prado in LF (with Kelly Johnson at 2B), Heyward playing out of position in RF, and the Frymaster still parked in RF. Andruw would be the fourth OF, though I’d be tempted to play him ahead of Francoeur…

  20. Who is this Tracy McGrady guy? Is it supposed to be good?

    If TMac can play like this the whole season, Crawford will be forgotten very quickly.

  21. Heyward wasn’t playing that good but he is still beginner; if he does good this season then Braves are going to have better starting even without doing anything

  22. Thats nothing, look at our 4th OFr/lefty masher

    Second half – .228/.284/.261
    vs LH – .295/.336/.356

    Dang.

  23. The same source that provided Pujols’ and Beltran’s signings well before anyone else says the Braves and O’s are in heavy talks about a Jurrjens+??? for Adam Jones and that it could be a pre-cursor to Coco Crisp signing with the O’s. Don’t know his credibility so…

  24. Hate to say it because I’m a fan of his, but the scrotum-less Mark Richt got what he deserved.

    Just because you can legitimately call timidity “traditional thinking” doesn’t make it less reprehensible.

    This isn’t 1954. Until you can mathematically prove that the other team cannot beat you in the remaining time allotted, you must continue to attack.

    If you get beat, at least go down swinging. Losing like the Dawgs did yesterday is the worst kind of loss.

  25. Great, surprising effort by the Hawks last night.

    Of course, SportsCenter devoted 98% of the highlights to the Heat.

    Good thing McGrady was out there because Joe Johnson was bound and determined to lose it for us.

  26. Free agent Cody Ross recently lowered his contract demands from a three-year to a two-year deal. If the price keeps coming down, the Atlanta Braves may be interested, says David O’Brien of the Atlanta JC.

    O’Brien hears Ross wants something in the neighborhood of the two-year, $10 million deal that David DeJesus got from the Cubs.

  27. Until reading the Hall Of Fame article, I had forgotten that Raines isn’t in the Hall yet. I always just kind of think of him as a Hall Of Famer, and unlike Larkin and Bagwell, it seems like he’s been on the ballot long enough.

  28. Dont do anything stupid Frank.

    MLBTR…•The Orioles are fairly confident they will add another outfielder, though that wouldn’t necessarily portend an Adam Jones trade. The Orioles were not overly intrigued by the Braves’ offer of Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, and a minor league pitcher. Connolly doesn’t see Jurrjens as a centerpiece for a Jones trade. Instead, the Orioles are intrigued by Tommy Hanson.

  29. Yeah, I’m sure they are. I’m intrigued by fiery blondes and high-paying jobs in non-rural areas. Sadly neither I nor the Orioles are in positions to get what we want.

  30. No.52. The Orioles haven’t made a decent trade since they acquired Frank Robinson. They haven’t been “Overly Intrigued” wih anyone for a long time. let em suck eggs.

  31. #46
    Richt & Bobo have plenty to answer for, regarding that last possesion in regulation. Get the 1st down & the game is over. Yes, guys, you’ll probably have to throw a forward pass there.

    But that game really was lost with Murray’s 2 inexplicable INTs. Something obviously was happening with those routes & he threw the ball to where he thought the receivers were supposed to be. And it didn’t just happen on the INTs. There were a couple incompletes that looked exactly the same. I haven’t heard much of an explanation about it.

    And then there’s the matter of our (thankfully, graduating) placekicker…

  32. @56

    There were a ton of communication errors w/ the QB and WRs.

    Your place kicker was automatic until this season. What happened?

  33. Who the hell knows? Lost confidence somehow.

    I feel genuinely bad for the guy. He may be our leading scorer now, but he’s no Kevin Butler. Or Alan Leavitt. Or John Kasay. Or Billy Bennett. Or Rex Robinson.

  34. But that game really was lost with Murray’s 2 inexplicable INTs

    I wasn’t say anything about it, but that’s exactly what I thought too. And there were many others that weren’t INTs but just as ugly. Something was amiss.

  35. Murray’s done that before. It’s what’s keeping him from greatness.

    Although, I believe the second interception was tipped at the line.

    And when throwing to Tavares, tell him to go long or don’t bother.

  36. AJC’s Mark Bradley actually had a good line about Murray. He likened him to the talented, if occasionally wild, point guard who can “keep both teams in the game.”

    The short passes are a big part of the offense, especially when they’ve been operating without a running attack for the past 4 games.

  37. Cody Ross is the guy you want if you want a playable bat for LF for next year. Jones is the guy you want if you’re interested in ever having anything beyond mediocre in the OF. I mean, he could never improve on his past numbers, but he’s the kind of tools guy that still has a lot of upside.

  38. Ross costs real money, which apparently is not really something Liberty is interested in. Well, that and none of the guys we are purportedly looking at actually “hit like a LF”. Well except Prado for 3 of the last 4 years, and he’s going to make 1/2 of what Ross gets so we need to trade him. Or something.

  39. @28,

    I’m not sure how debatable it is that Mantle was better than Berra; perhaps more so in the early 50s. Being MVP doesn’t mean you are the best player on the team; Phil Rizzuto was MVP in 1950 and I doubt anyone would say he was the best player on that team. I agree it’s probably more of an argument with respect to Campanella.

    The point is, though, that Yogi didn’t need to necessarily be the best player on the team. And the same with Campanella.

  40. 62,

    Adam Jones, by any statistical measure, is not a good player. Below average defense, no walks, a little pop, and lots of strikeouts. Actually, he might be the perfect Braves player…

    I really wish they’d elect Murphy.

    Can we stick David Ross in LF?

  41. If that’s the sort of response Wren has been getting for trade options this offseason, we’re all happy Wren has made no moves, right?

  42. 68,

    Hybrid Shark/Mongoose electric motors, to be precise.

    70,

    You know, 22 million per year was a lot for Lowe and Kawakami (surprise!!!).

  43. #69
    If we’re just not going to spend for talent—and that’s not a Wren decision—I’m mostly cool with it and, to be honest, I’d rather roll the dice with deep pitching staff.

    It’s no fun to sit around all winter hoping that guys who really sucked last year will be much better, but I truly believe it’s a distinct possibility. (And with Heyward, it’s kind of a necessity.)

    Sometimes life is about knowing what you don’t want. For me, that would currently include Adam Jones and/or Ryan Theriot.

  44. I would mind adding Jones, but I’d certainly mind doing it for the rumored pricetag, which is just insane.

  45. Shark steak and beer. Yum.
    ——————–

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that Liberty is content to starve their outpost.

    If that is indeed the case, hang on to all your inexpensive pitching until a new owner can be found.

    Anybody think Hanson will be healthy long-term?

  46. Mantle was by far the most talented athlete on the ’50s Yankees… but rightly or wrongly it was perceived as Berra’s team.

    Part of that may be unfair — Mantle was sort of an idiot and a carouser who, between his drinking and his early-career leg injury, never got the most out of his freakishly prodigious talents. But what he did get out of his talents still made him an all-timer.

    That said the offensive production that Berra provided at catcher, combined with all those still-hard-to-measure qualities like “leadership” and “handling the staff” made it an open question.

    How about this? Mantle was the best player on the team, but Berra was pretty much 1A.

  47. Marc Schneider Says:

    @8,

    Not only that but a catcher takes such a pounding that you expect him to wear down later in the season-especially playing outdoors in Atlanta. And a catcher can’t stand around thinking about his hitting like an outfielder can. The only catchers I can think of that were really the cornerstones of the team offensively were Piazza and maybe Johnny Bench early in his career–but Bench obviously had a lot of help and even he tailed off later. Piazza was just a freak. Even guys like Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella weren’t the best players on the team.
    January 2nd, 2012 at 1:39 pm ”

    Piazza didn’t waste a lot of time thinking about catching.

  48. Is anyone else concerned that the team’s supposed “strength” – starting pitching depth – lacks right now any pitcher who one could, with confidence, pencil in for 200+ innings?

    Gonna be taxing that bullpen again if something doesn’t change.

  49. Is anyone else concerned that the team’s supposed “strength” – starting pitching depth – lacks right now any pitcher who one could, with confidence, pencil in for 200+ innings?

    Is this our official first nostalgia for Derek Lowe?

  50. VaTech was so much the better team in that game. OT aside, not going for it on 4th and 1 from the same area they’d just converted 4th and 11, and then compounding the error by trying a fake punt…ugh.

  51. Is this our official first nostalgia for Derek Lowe?

    Not likely. In his three years with the Braves, Lowe never pitched 200 innings in one season.

  52. Alex,

    I agree with you about it being perceived as Berra’s team–at least until 1956 (although you could argue it was really perceived as Casey Stengel’s team)– but he still had a lot more help than McCann does.

    Mantle may not have gotten as much out of his talent as he could have–although that’s sort of a curious argument considering he won the triple crown in 1956 and the batting title the next year–but there is no one on the current Braves that is anywhere close to even a young Mantle (a young Chipper would obviously be closer). We hope that Heyward can be a star but, right now, he isn’t. And even the role players (Hank Bauer, Gene Woodling, Joe Collins) would arguably be superior to most of the Braves. I have to believe there was less pressure on Berra to hit than there is on McCann.

    (I have to admit, the Yankees of the 50s–Cold War America- absolutely fascinate me. And Mantle’s carousing, while tragic in many ways, makes him sort of a Hemingway type hero–not that I’m a big fan of his writing. The damndest thing is, though, that the Braves in the 90s were a few key hits from being the 50s Yankees.)

  53. I’d like to think that Larry Drew proved to himself that Josh / Joe are not closers. They’re “flow-of-the-game” All-Stars, but you simply can’t have Josh launching 22-ft. 2-pointers – ever, but especially in crunch time.

    More Vlad. More McGrady.

    Oh, and any point guard named Teague sucks at the line at the end of the game.

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