The Atlanta Braves‘ Spring Training games have officially started as of today, and one thing is clear – Brian McCann is really gone. This will be the first time in nine seasons that the team will have a primary catcher behind the plate not named McCann. However, the team is confident in what their new catcher, Evan Gattis, will have the ability to do.
Gattis is capable of picking up the offensive production that the team lost with McCann’s departure. He can hit .240-.250 in a complete season and his power numbers will be comparable to, if not better than, McCann’s. Where the team may suffer is the fact that Gattis doesn’t get on base nearly as often as McCann did. In the same number of games and in two less at bats, Gattis had an on-base percentage of .291, striking out 81 times and walking only 21. McCann only struck out more than 80 times three times as a Brave, and his average on-base percentage was .350.
Where the Braves will miss McCann is on the defensive side of the baseball. He was a guy that pitchers had learned to trust and he could help the younger guys along in a tough game at times. Gattis, however, isn’t as solid behind the plate. His instincts aren’t all there, as he spent some time last season holding down left field. His glove isn’t as good behind the plate either.
Being able to hit 20-30 home runs will be a good thing for the Braves. They are going to miss some scoring opportunities though, seeing that Gattis doesn’t get on base nearly as much as McCann did. He is also a step slower behind the plate as their former long time catcher.