Gawlowski: Brian McCann’s great career and fascinating Hall of Fame case

From Brendan Gawlowski at FanGraphs on October 15, 2019:

Atlanta’s Game 5 loss to St. Louis last week marked not only the end of a season, but also the end of an era, as Braves catcher Brian McCann announced his retirement after the contest. It came without much warning: McCann hadn’t tipped his hand publicly and he certainly could have found work in 2020 had he wanted to play. For a man who mostly kept quiet away from the diamond, his understated goodbye was a fitting conclusion to a great and perhaps under-appreciated career. While at times overshadowed by others at the position, McCann was one of the game’s premier catchers for more than a decade. His steady production at the plate and prowess with the glove made him a star — and an intriguing test case for Cooperstown.

McCann was Atlanta’s second-round pick out of Duluth High School in Georgia in 2002, a prequel of sorts to the club’s strategy of locking down home-state talent in the draft later that decade. High school backstops are a notoriously risky player pool, but McCann bucked the odds and blossomed into one of Atlanta’s top prospects almost immediately. He was one of the best players in the Sally League as a 19-year-old, and he slugged nearly .500 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League a year later. He then proved equal to the Double-A test in 2005. Fifty games into the season, he’d walked nearly as often as he’d struck out and with good power to boot. Stuck in third place and receiving little production from their catchers, Atlanta summoned him to the big leagues that June. (The minor league skipper who delivered the good news? None other than Brian Snitker.)

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Originally published: October 15, 2019. Last Updated: October 15, 2019.