Brian McCann will have to figure out how to handle the shift if he is going to continue to be baseball's best offensive catcher. (Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE)

Season So Far: Brian McCann

I have mentioned Brian McCann in the past two season so far pieces so I guess it wasn’t too hard to figure that he would be next on the list. McCann has always been the Braves most consistent hitter, but this year… he hasn’t. Normally when a team is dominating the ball and one guy is slumping it isn’t a big deal—but when you only have this year and a team option left on your contract people start to get nervous.

G AB BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA BABIP WAR
2011 128 527 10.8% 16.9% .270 .351 .466 .348 .287 4.2
2012 35 147 10.9% 8.8% .254 .333 .423 .333 .241 0.9

His number’s definitely aren’t horrible, especially not for a catcher, but when your Brian McCann you don’t get the same mulligan as others. People might not have the right to freak out over less than 150 at bats but I think it’s perfectly fine for them to be worried about B-Mac right now.

Fred has been going over 2013 contract decisions lately and while McCann should have his option exercised for that year, some decisions will need to be made soon after. Add to the picture Christian Bethancourt and Evan Gattis and you have some pretty hard decisions to make. Fortunately we have more than a year and a half more of McCann to see if he can step it up again.

While he is struggling though, let’s see if we can find out why.

 

The first thing I looked at when plugging McCann’s stats into the table above was his walk and strike out rates. So far the two players I have written about have shown positive changes with their discipline at the plate. At first glance McCann seems to have done the same thing, walking at almost exactly the same rate as last year while striking out almost 50% less.

Obviously it’s better to strike out less, but not to the extent where you are just throwing the bat out at pitches simply to avoid the K. It’s not about hitting the ball, it’s about hitting the ball hard.

First I checked up on his batted ball rates to see if they were in line with his career numbers. His LD% is at 20.3, his GB% is at 39.8%, and his FB% is at 39.8%. The line drive mark is up by 5 from last year and slightly above his career rate, his ground ball percentage is up about two points from last year and his career mark, and his fly ball rate is down about 7 points from last year and around 3 off his career mark.

The line drive mark is nice but because both the line drives and ground balls are up McCann is losing hits to the shift that has been put on him more than ever in his career. I mentioned this a while ago and it seems like it is still affecting him.

I tried to get a spray chart then, but couldn’t manage to but now thanks to MS Paint I have gotten it done for you guys:

brian mccann spray chart

As you can see, the majority of McCann’s hits are pulled. Out of the balls he has hit at Turner Field only 8 are listed on this chart as backside. There are no hits or outs in the left-center field gap and that is something that is going to have to change.

I feel a bit redundant saying this again but it is becoming more and more obvious as the season where’s on and McCann continues to hit below what he should. If he doesn’t then teams are simply going to continue to move to the right side, and McCann will keep hitting around .250.

Also, if you guys know where I can find spray charts of players with all parks combined that would be fantastic. Obviously I’d like to get a larger sample to emphasis McCann’s tendencies, so if you know anything let me know.

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