His five year mission has ended: to explore strange new ballparks, to seek out new life in his bat and new pitching rotations. To boldly go where no Brave catcher has gone before… back home.
I am so ready to see what this Brian McCann 4.0 model is like as he comes back to the Atlanta Braves. I say ‘4.0’ because he’s had multiple new versions of himself since leaving Atlanta as version 1.0. Since then, there’s been…
- The Yankees 2.0 version – clean-shaven and aiming for the short porch
- The Houston version 3.0 – an immersion into advanced analytics.
- Now the rejuvenated and healthy 4.0 McCann is back home… to put it all together?
McCann has quietly put together a fairly impressive career for himself over 14 seasons. He’s like the Walter Mitty of catchers (for the youngsters here, this is the name we invoked in such situations before Forrest Gump came along).
- He’s caught Hall of Famers (John Smoltz and Tom Glavine)
- He’s caught Cy Young winners (Sabathia, Keuchel, Verlander in addition to Smoltz and Glavine)
- He’s hit behind another HOF (Chipper Jones) and played for one (Bobby Cox)
- He has a World Series ring
- He’s been on teams that have won a strong majority (.546) of their games (1240-1028) in regular season play
- His teams have finished 1st or 2nd in the standings 9 times
- He is 34th all-time among catchers in fWAR. Yadier Molina is 1.0 in front of him (30th) and Russell Martin is 0.5 in front of him (33rd).
- Buster Posey (27th) is at 38.9, but his number includes a significant number of 1B innings (close to 20%); Brian is under 1% there).
- McCann is 4th All-time in catcher innings played… he stands a chance to ‘catch’ Martin (124 behind) for 3rd.
- He is 10th All-time in homers for players whose primary position was catcher (270). 6 more would pass Jorge Posada and Brian Downing for 8th. Javy Lopez had 260.
Just about the only thing Brian hasn’t done on a baseball field is to catch a no-hitter. It would be fun to see that happen this year… for multiple reasons.
But now we have this new Brian McCann returning… one who has learned the ways of The Analytic Force through the immersion education that the Astros provide.
With his new outside experience, Brian is effectively a second pitching coach and will be able to sift the data along with the Braves’ analytics team and help incorporate this knowledge into better ways to help these (fairly wild) pitchers get outs better.
Need evidence that he’s enthused to get started? Here ya go:
That ‘AA’ is Alex Anthopoulos who was being quoted there at an A-List members gathering in early December.
Brian McCann is home now – his knees feel good and he’s excited to be with this new crop of Braves.
I, for one, am also excited to hear about what he’s got to share and to see how it works for this young staff.
News of the Day: A Quick Note
A piece of new info about player movement and rumors thereof:
Kikuchi is the biggest Japanese transfer of the year – a 27-year-old pitcher who will translate to the majors without much difficulty. He’s also probably the best pitcher (that was) still available on the free agent market.
While I recently made fun of the Mariners’ idea that they’d be relevant again by 2020 or 2021, a signing of Kikuchi will now help make that happen… and this will also put a complete end to any talk of trading Mitch Haniger.
Kikuchi now has an interestingly-constructed 4+year deal with Seattle, and that means they will now attempt to build and not subtract.
The other aspect of this that’s most interesting is this novel construction of a contract option. This is a Scott Boras thing, which could be intriguing to some other free agents that he has under his wing right now. We’ll have to see how that might unfold for Keuchel and Harper in the coming weeks.
Speaking of ‘weeks’: pitchers and catchers report to Disney World in less than 7 weeks. Time is getting short… expect a lot to happen next week.