Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis Continues To Have Outstanding Offensive Season

By Brad Faber
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon, the fourth-place Philadelphia Phillies took on the second-place Atlanta Braves in the third and final game of a classic NL East showdown series. The Braves, who had lost the first two games, were unable to salvage a victory and avoid being swept today as the Phills beat them by a score of 10-5. The Braves’ sophomore catching sensation, Evan Gattis, had another pretty nice day, though, going 1-for-5 with a big two-run homer.

A former 23rd round draft pick of the Braves, Gattis simply slugged his way to the big leagues, consistently hitting over .300 with power in the minors. He burst onto the scene last season as a 26-year-old rookie, slashing .243/.291/.480 with 21 doubles, 21 home runs and 65 RBIs in 105 games. He finished seventh in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. This year, however, has been going even better for him. After today, his slash line now stands at .294/.346/.588 with 16 home runs and 38 RBIs. Perhaps the most impressive statistic is the noticeable rise in his on-base percentage.

Gattis, along with teammates Ryan Doumit and Gerald Laird, came into the season with the unenviable task of filling the shoes of Brian McCann, the seven-time All-Star catcher who left the Braves for the New York Yankees this past offseason when they dangled a five-year, $85 million contract his way.

To the surprise of many, Gattis has simply taken the job and run with it. Gattis, who split time between catching and the outfield last season and also had about a handful of games sprinkled in at first base, has made each and every one of his starts behind the plate this season. Today actually marked his 48th start of the year as the Braves’ backstop, which is already a total of 10 more than he had all of last year.

For as great as Gattis has been at the plate, he has been pretty adequate defensively as well, yielding a .988 fielding percentage and throwing out 23 percent of would-be basestealers prior to today’s game. He is truly having a spectacular 2014 campaign, and he is garnering plenty of much-deserved consideration for the All-Star game.

McCann, on the other hand, has had a rather hard time getting it going in the Bronx this season. He is currently slashing just .220/.278/.345 with only seven doubles, seven home runs and 28 RBIs. Furthermore, although injuries were involved and his power numbers were still good, McCann’s batting average had really begun to fall off during his final two years with the Braves as he hit just .230 and .256 in those seasons, respectively.

McCann may have already been showing signs of regression, and it is truly beginning to look like replacing him with Gattis has actually been a blessing in disguise for the Braves. The Yankees may have taken a very big gamble in signing the former Brave great to such a lucrative deal.

Brad Faber is a MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @Brad_Faber, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on LinkedIn or Google

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