Appreciating Brian McCann, Mr. Underappreciated
It’s funny how the most underrated player in the game comes from one of the best organizations in the game. Yes, the Braves. Brian McCann to me, gets overshadowed when discussing the games elite catchers because if some guy named Joe Mauer. Now, that is just talking about catchers. Brian McCann has a bat and glove as good as any catcher in recent history. Not only that, but certain saber metrical stats compare him with some of the greats, such as Yogi Berra.
River Avenue Blues’ writer Mike Axisa, who is a great writer and writes for MLBTradeRumors as well, made a statement the other day by comparing Brian McCann and Yogi Berra in a WARGraph. Mike was also the one who started the whole “Brian McCann is underrated thing.” What is a WARGraph you ask? Only one of the coolest things around. WARGraphs let you compare up to 4 players whether they are active or retired and shows the cumulative WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over time. Mike compared Yogi Berra to Brian McCann and the graph came out like this:
So that inspired me to expand the search. I added Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey to the list. Both of whom are Hall of Fame catchers, such as the likes of Yogi Berra and possibly in the future, Brian McCann. As you can see, their cumulative WAR by age is nearly identical all the way through to the end of their careers.
Tell me that isn’t awesome? Mike’s point was that McCann through his 1st six seasons was better than Berra. Well I just kept it going by proving that McCann has been better than two other Hall of Famers through his first six seasons.
Back to Brian, imagine where the Bravos team would be without him. We’re talking about a guy who hits for average and power, plays very good defense behind the plate, and even posted a 5.3 WAR in ’10. All of those are obvious when talking about McCann, except possibly the WAR, but the homegrown catcher still gets overlooked among players in the game, not just catchers. So the point I’m trying to make is, can Brian McCann be viewed as the #1 most underrated player in Major League Baseball? Shin Soo Choo might have something to say about that, but how often has Choo had his knees crushed behind the plate 130-150 times per year? How many catchers post a career OBP of .360 while catching a tremendous young pitching staff?
I’m looking for McCann to continue his great career in a Braves uniform and if history repeats himself as seen with three other comparable catchers who wound up in Cooperstown, McCann will have a tremendous career even if he remains one of the more underappreciated players in Major League Baseball.