Brian McCann had a solid season in 2011 despite going down with an injury like Prado, Beachy, and Heyward. We should be extremely proud for him to be a Brave, and cross your fingers for an extension some time soon. If he can keep the numbers he has been putting up alive for a bit longer, he has the potential to be a Hall of Famer.
Even though most people might think 2011 was just same ol’ same ol’ with McCann there was actually a significant difference between his previous years and this past one.
Take a look at his batted ball profile for the past couple of years:
All of his numbers are extremely close in every category until you get to 2011. For whatever reason, McCann started to hit more fly balls and less line drives in 2011 and the difference suggests that it wasn’t just the fluctuation between seasons.
I’m guessing that McCann tried to put the ball in the air more because of all the criticism he took before the season about him declining in power. It is true that he tied his career high in homeruns in 2011 but is it worth the drop in LD%?
In 2011 he hit less doubles than he ever has in a full season in the bigs. The 19 from last year is a pretty big difference in his doubles numbers since 2006: 34, 38, 42, 35, 25. However he also had less plate appearances because of the time he was injured.
From the one year of data we have I can’t tell you that the change is bad, and I am inclined to think it will be beneficial if he is able to get around 560 plate appearances. He could set a new personal best in homeruns and get his doubles back into his normal range as well.
Again, the difference isn’t huge and McCann will be a dominant offensive catcher either way but it is something that will be interesting to watch as the season progresses. It could also be possible that McCann didn’t change his approach at all and the difference was simply injury related.
Let’s move into the projections.
There is not too much of a difference between Roto Champ and Bill James with Brian McCann except SLG% and runs. I am a bit surprised that Roto Champ is predicting 77 runs from McCann since the closest he has ever come to that mark in his career is 68 in 2008. Apparently James went with McCann’s career SLG and Roto Champ made their’s based on McCann’s previous two seasons. I think Roto Champ’s is low and Bill James’ high; I am expecting somewhere in between for McCann next year.
I also have to disagree with them on the home run numbers based on the batted ball stats from last year. If McCann has indeed changed his approach and is trying to hit more fly balls it would make sense to predict more homeruns. I am going to set the number at 27. It is only a three bomb difference but it will be a new high for Brian.
Other than that I would expect a typical year from McCann. Excellent offense, and mediocre defense. Before you get on to me about his defense I am speaking about his ability to catch base runners. He is great at managing the pitchers and good at blocking but he is pretty bad and keeping runners honest. Last year he only caught 22% of base runners, which is an extremely low rate. However, McCann is apparently one of the best in the league at framing pitches. Look forward to another great year from Brian in 2012.