In 2005, the Atlanta Braves went into the season with a catcher who had finally broke out in the majors the year prior having a career year. Johnny Estrada was a 28-year-old catcher who had just made the all-star game in 2004, was expected to follow it with another great season. Instead, the Braves had their number three prospect in 2004 waiting in the wings.
On June 10th 2005 Brian McCann got his first major league start. He began as John Smoltz personal catcher but throughout the season started out performing Estrada. By August, McCann was the Braves everyday catcher and help sealed their 14th straight divisional crown. In his first career post season at bat, McCann became the first in Braves history to hit a homerun off Roger Clemens. After McCann’s performance in 2005, the Braves decided to trade Estrada after the season and from then on the catcher position was filled by #16.
Except for an injury-plagued season in 2012, McCann made the all-star game six straight years beginning in 2006. He also collected five Silver Slugger awards from 2008-2011 and in 2006. McCann has hit at least 20 homeruns in every season excluding 2007 when he hit 18. If it weren’t for a man named Chipper Jones, Brian McCann would probably be the face of the organization.
During the 2012 season McCann battled a shoulder injury through the season and his numbers dipped from this. Knowing surgery would probably occur in the offseason, he accepted the fact he was injured and tried to play through the pain. He still had 20 homeruns but his batting average stumbled to .230 and a slugging percentage below .400, which were both career lows. Was the shoulder a cause of the season slump or is Brian McCann fading as an elite Atlanta Brave?
The game of baseball is quick to write off a player but for McCann I think it’s to early to say he’s on the decline. After the shoulder surgery this offseason, McCann looks to return to the Braves lineup by mid April. The Braves lineup looks as strong as it’s been in a while giving me hope McCann’s RBI and Run chances will increase. With his shoulder completely healed, hopefully, McCann should return to his all-star caliber player he was just a year ago.