Rant Sports MLB Top 50 Players of 2014: No. 49 Brian McCann
After nine great seasons with Brian McCann, the Atlanta Braves may be looking for a new catcher for 2014. After a bad season in 2012, McCann had a very nice bounce-back season in 2013 so good that he may have played his way out of Atlanta.
McCann hit for a .230/.300/.399 line in 2012, but it jumped the whole way up to .256/.336/.461 line in 2013. That is an OPS jump from .698 to .796. McCann suffered from vision issues in 2012, but once they were solved he returned to his All-Star form. While he is a good player overall, McCann is even more valuable because he gives a team above average offense from the catching position. There aren’t a lot of catchers in MLB that hit all that well.
Defensively, McCann is a bit below average, but he is such a good hitter that it cancels out any defensive weaknesses. He had a caught stealing percentage of just 24 in 2013, and the league average is 28 percent. Even though he doesn’t throw out a lot of base-runners, he is a nice presence behind the plate and controls a pitching staff pretty well. For a power-hitting catcher, McCann’s strikeout and walk rates are still pretty decent. He walked in 9.7 percent of his plate appearances while striking out in just 16.4 percent.
In 2013, McCann put up a solid 2.7 WAR. On the surface, that seems like a bit of a low number, but when you take into consideration that he only played in 102 games, compiling just 402 plate appearances, a 2.7 WAR is a significant number. McCann had just a .261 BABIP last season, so he could be in line for a bit of an increase in average in 2014, unless for some reason his string of bad luck continues next year.
McCann’s peripheral numbers suggest a bit of an improvement in 2014. He isn’t incredibly old, either, at just 29 years of age. A decent walk rate, decent strikeout rate and low BABIP in 2013 all suggest that he will sustain his success and even improve a little. In just 102 games, the catcher hit 20 home runs. If he plays in 130 games in 2014, he could easily hit close to 25-30 home runs for the team that signs him over the offseason.