Friday, July 1, 2011

Brian McCann, Meet Your Prime

It's often said a player hits his prime between ages 26-32. There are always cases of early success or late revivals, but in the end, you tend to see the best years for players falling into that age category. And for hitters, there is a good reason. Power develops at its peak in these years.

A half season is a long way from determining anything, but so far, Brian McCann seems to be entering these years at age 27.

McCann has already posted a 3.2 fWAR, on pace to shatter his previous marks and good for 11th in the National League. That's 11th overall, not for catchers. He is 0.6 wins above the second-best mark for catchers in MLB by Alex Avila and 0.8 wins above the second-best in the National League by Miguel Montero. This while accumulating the second-most games played and most plate appearances by a strict catcher (Carlos Santana plays 1B, as well), meaning more innings logged behind the plate.

McCann's power has returned to 2008 levels, slugging .527 and posting an Isolated Power of .212. Both of these marks are second-best to Avila in MLB, but he leads all catchers in home runs at 14.

However, the big value is coming from his on-base numbers. His .388 OBP matches his career-high set during his rookie campaign in 2006, and his .390 wOBA is second to that year on his career-bests. The big number is a 150 wRC+, which is 13th in all of baseball.

This while posting a second straight season of 10+ BB%. His 10.7% is a little less than the 13.1% last season, but he's maintaining an excellent walk rate while adding more power to last season's totals. This way of combining both and putting it all together is a sign of reaching maturity as a hitter, and McCann seems to be entering that stage. He said it himself during a recent post-game interview when he said he's hitting at a level only reached one other time during his career.

When McCann was first coming up, we all knew what the Braves had. This was no secret among the Braves community, yet it seemed to be a secret held to the Braves community. Even now, McCann's face isn't plastered on video game ads or billboards, and he is still considered underrated by those who don't study baseball. Whether that changes as McCann hits through his prime years is not certain, but as long as he continues to hit like this, I don't think anybody really cares.

I've held the belief for a couple years that McCann is every bit as good as Joe Mauer, and while I hate to pick on the injured, McCann has certainly blown by Mauer this season. The thing is, I would put good money on McCann besting Mauer during their prime years regardless of injuries, anyway.

Don't take for granted what you're watching on a daily basis with McCann. You're watching a potential Hall of Famer at work, and that's something to remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment