Brian McCann has been a player on my fantasy teams for the last few years. This last season was an exception, and it was good for me. McCann had a terrible year and I was pretty successful in my leagues.
But my own history with the Braves catcher makes me feel somewhat inclined to take a look forward. What kind of fantasy player will he be in 2013?
Let’s take a look at some of McCann’s good and not so good points.
Just take a look at McCann’s home run totals since his first full season of 2006.
If we were talking about a first baseman, that wouldn’t be so valuable. But McCann’s a catcher and a reliable 20 homers from behind the dish is valuable to your team. Not only are those numbers pretty strong for a catcher, but they are really consistent. Strangely enough, if he had a year or two with 35 or more, it would be harder to know what to predict and therefore, it would be a challenge to know how to build the rest of the team. But when you have a high-low deviation of six homers over seven seasons, you can bet that McCann will bring a solid number to the table and you should have a good idea what you need around him to reach your HR goals.
Potential loss of David Ross
In David Ross, the Braves have had a very capable backup to McCann. As a matter of fact, Ross has played in at least 50 games a year every season he’s been in Atlanta. Clearly, the Braves haven’t been afraid to sit McCann, even starting Ross in their Wild Card Playoff game vs. the Cardinals.
But now Ross is a free agent and while the Braves will certainly have a backup in 2013, he may not be anywhere near as capable as Ross. Granted, it’s possible that the extra wear-and-tear would hurt McCann’s productivity, but a general rule in fantasy baseball is that at-bats equal productivity. If McCann gets more of those, extra production is more likely.
As the Braves themselves reported via Twitter, McCann will be back behind the dish in 2013. Beyond 2013 however, is a question mark. McCann will be a free agent next offseason and while that helps some players more than others, telling someone that millions of dollars could come their way with a good season is never going to be a bad thing.
McCann will be limited through most of Spring Training with an injury. As a matter of fact, there is absolutely no guarantee that he’ll even be good to go on Opening Day next year. That tells me a few things.
- While I listed the potential loss of Ross as a good thing because it’s far from a guarantee that Atlanta will get a backup that good, the Braves would be stupid to not try very hard to bring Ross back, or at least a capable backup.
- A power hitting catcher with a shoulder injury scares me. McCann will be 29 next year and while that’s not old, he’s taken a lot of abuse behind the plate through his career and those kind of injuries aren’t that easily healed.
Even if you told me that McCann will certainly be ready to go by next April, the injury would worry me.
Loss of star teammates
I focus a lot on the long ball because unlike runs and RBI, homers are mostly reliant on the player himself, with only quality of pitches being impacted by teammates. But Chipper Jones has played his last game and Michael Bourn is a free agent. Those are two quality players that may not be on the pond for McCann to drive in.
Now, I do think that Atlanta will look to bring in more talent to make up for those losses, but right now, that’s not at all certain.
Okay, we saw that the power numbers were consistent, but take a look at some other stats.
Not quite as consistent, right? Actually, the problem isn’t just inconsistency. If you look, those numbers are generally regressing and in 2012, they were rock bottom. I don’t necessarily expect another .230 season last year, but I wouldn’t bet a nickel that McCann will crack .250 in 2013. McCann can still draw walks, but that doesn’t mean as much for me with catchers. Also, if he hits .250 and again has a 70-point difference between average and OBP, a .250/.320 season is still below average.
Is McCann an elite catcher? No, he’s not. I only speak for myself here, not Nash or Clave, but I don’t trust the injury and decreasing overall production. Heck, even if McCann doesn’t miss time, I have Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Wilin Rosario, Salvador Perez, Miguel Montero, Carlos Santana, and Victor Martinez all projected better than McCann. With the injury risk of catcher, it’s a position where projections and production are often apart, but McCann doesn’t get any benefit of the doubt there with an actual injury. You could say that Martinez is similar, but he gets to DH, McCann doesn’t.
When you factor in McCann’s injury, he’s not even a Top 12 fantasy catcher. If you want him, draft him late (if at all) and hope for big production from a veteran, but I’d avoid McCann in a pretty big way next year.
Dixon’s Early 2013 Projection Range
|Best Case Scenario||510||144||79||26||87||4||.282|
|Worst Case Scenario||306||67||24||9||38||0||.219|