Let's give Brian McCann some credit

Braves veteran catcher proving a lot with his fine play

Macon TelegraphMay 31, 2013 

Give Brian McCann credit. He's watching the guy who will undoubtedly take his job next year become a national story right in front of his own eyes. But Evan Gattis has done little to intimidate the veteran Braves catcher.

 

Perhaps he's inspiring McCann, who in three weeks has hit six home runs -  the same number as B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward combined, but in 193 fewer at bats. McCann has 14 RBI - two fewer than the unproductive Atlanta outfield duo.

 

McCann isn't giving up his job just yet. He has more work to do this season, and whether it's to simply prove to others he's healthy now and can still be productive, or if he wants to prove something to his own front office, his performance so far is very impressive.

 

It had to be hard for McCann to watch Gattis steal the spotlight in April, and even after McCann got back in May and pushed Gattis to the bench, the rookie still seems to be the story.

 

But watching McCann Tuesday you just had to smile a bit. Gattis hit a long home run to left field in Toronto, and McCann came to the plate as the next batter and showed he can still hit a bomb himself.

 

I have to admit I thought of the old song, "Anything you can do, I can do better." McCann didn't hit that home run to show up Gattis. He did it to help his team win the game. But it was somewhat fitting that McCann followed the 'young' kid Gattis by showing he still has some gas left in his tank, too.

 

Who knows what could happen between now and this offseason. Sure, Gattis is a great story and shows no signs of slowing down, even in a part-time role. But things change quickly in baseball, which is why it's always smart to take things one day at a time.

 

But facts are facts... McCann is a soon-to-be 30-year-old catcher that can't play another defensive position. He's about to become a free agent. Now, his team, that has loved him since the day he arrived in the big leagues, has found another (and cheaper) option.

 

Has McCann sulked and pouted? Nope. He's simply gone out and showed he can still hit. He's healthy now. Oh, is he healthy. We know that from his production so far. Last year, he wasn't healthy and his numbers looked like Biff Pocoroba was back with the Braves. But now, McCann has reminded us what he can do when healthy.

 

He's an elite hitter - yes, elite. Look at the numbers and consider what position he plays. When he's healthy, McCann is a .300-type hitter. When he's healthy, he's a legit power hitter. And his presence in the Atlanta lineup has made a difference.

 

It hasn't make Gattis go away, but that's what's amazing about the entire story. The Braves are still getting the production from Gattis off the bench. He's been the best pinch-hitter in baseball. And the Braves are a better team for it.

 

We know how this story will probably end. McCann will probably sign a big-money contract with an American League team, which will allow him to DH for most of the rest of his playing days, and Gattis will take over as Atlanta's primary catcher.

 

But we should truly appreciate what McCann is doing right now. This can't be easy for him. He grew up 30 miles from Turner Field, and unlike Gattis, his journey to the big leagues was not a movie of the week. But his production and effort are making this team better, and that's all McCann cares about anyway.

 

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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