The Braves have announced that backup catcher David Ross will start in the WC game in place of Brian McCann. Weird decision, but a good decision.
You would think that any manager would go with their “everyday” lineup in the McCann has been seriously struggling the whole year, finishing the season with a .230/.300/.399 line. Despite a couple short hot streaks, his ailing shoulder seems to have gotten the better of him in September. His Sept/Oct line: .226/.279/.355. Now, its not like David Ross’s Sept/Oct was any better: .213/.284/.383. But his season numbers are much better and he is not nearly so pull-heavy as McCann. The defense won’t be able to clog a portion of the field with extra defenders.
You would also think that the manager would use the platoon split any play lefty McCann against righty Kyle Lohse. However, as I noted in my previous post, Lohse has a minimal platoon split. And recently, Ross has actually hit far better against righties (.268/.333/.485) than he did against lefties (.241/.307/.405). Those numbers are better than McCann’s against anyone.
Most importantly, Ross provides better defense. With regard to pitch blocking and framing, both are good and relatively equal according to Fangraphs. But Ross stands out when you compare baserunning defense. According to baseball-reference, McCann has thrown out 24% of attempt base thieves, while Ross has thrown out 44%. This could mean nothing in 1 game, or it could mean everything. A few milliseconds of difference on a throw to 2nd could be the difference between a tie-ing runner in scoring position or getting out of an inning. Most likely not – but just maybe.
In the one game playoff – everything is amplified, and the Braves need to do every little thing possible to maximize their chances of winning. Playing Ross does that.