Atlanta Braves: Is It Too Early to Crown Evan Gattis?

Mike FosterCorrespondent IApril 15, 2013

Evan Gattis might be the biggest story in baseball for the opening month.
Evan Gattis might be the biggest story in baseball for the opening month.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Not only are the Atlanta Braves the hottest team in baseball after two weeks, but they are also watermarked by one of the most intriguing individual storylines of the young season.

Evan Gattis is currently one of the biggest names in baseball. Yes, big serves the description plenty of justice. The 6'4", 230-pound catcher from Dallas has earned himself the freak-of-the-week medal. 

I'm still trying to understand how he squared up on a 97 mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg that was seemingly eye level. The fact that his first big league home run came while his parents were being interviewed by broadcasting television is something that would make Jason Heyward's father's reaction to his first swing seem vanilla. 

Yes, the movie script beginning to the career of Evan Gattis is undoubtedly one to soak in, even at this early in the juncture. After all, Gattis used to work as a ski-lift operator as well as a janitor. It's safe to say this is the best job he's had.

But the question is: Can he keep it? Does Gattis' "hulk smash" stint as the Braves' oddball replacement catcher have the potential to evolve into the storybook ending we all want to see? 

And, does that mean the end of Brian McCann's career as a hometown kid in a Braves uniform?

It's pretty damn possible. 

Your reaction: "Woah dude, it's way too early to be putting McCann's name in an envelope. Gattis could be a one-hit wonder."

But, seriously, is it too early?

Here's the shake on Gattis so far. Without all of the candy coating. Just the stats.

He's batting .324, has the second-highest slugging percentage on the team behind Justin Upton (who has a higher slugging percentage than Justin Upton? I'm sure kids are struggling to recreate his numbers in their video games), 11 hits, four homers and 10 RBI. 

From a mere perspective of just looking at him, you see that his power is just plain ridiculous. Braves fans and experts will tell you the same thing right now: If he keeps hitting like this, the Braves have to find a way to keep him in the lineup.

Unless Gattis can join the third base brigade currently manned by Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson (who's playing first right now in the absence of Freddie Freeman, who's on the 15-day disabled list), there's really nowhere to fit him in other than catcher.

Some are being bold and saying the Braves should release Dan Uggla and stick Gattis in at second base. That's one of those where I just kind of shrug one shoulder up and leave the room, but I digress.

The next question is whether or not he has the command and composure as a catcher. Well, in the nine starts he's had so far, opponents have only scored 11 runs. It's safe to say the pitching is plenty comfortable shooting the tunnel with him behind the dish. 

The sample size is small, but right now Gattis is producing, all while not having to give us a weekly report on what goggles or eye drops he's using. 

Look, I love Brian McCann. He's only three years older than Gattis to boot. But, this argument isn't even to stage three yet. 

McCann's current salary is $12 million. Gattis is costing the Braves $490,000. From a business standpoint, the decision is pretty easy. McCann is in the final year of his deal and is probably the most valuable piece of trade bait the Braves have right now. 

It's funny how things can change in a few months too, because with Gattis fever taking over Braves country, we are forgetting how excited we are supposed to be about the Braves' top prospect, catcher Christian Bethancourt. 

Brian McCann was valuable to the Braves when he was their only big-time bat besides Chipper Jones and eventually the raw power of Jason Heyward.

Times have quickly changed. Atlanta has so much young power and versatility that Dan Uggla is considered a liability as a staple in the back of the lineup. 

What we kind of envisioned going into the season was that a catching platoon of Gattis and Gerald Laird would get us by, maybe somewhat uncomfortably, until McCann could return. At that point, we'd keep a close watch on how McCann's season went, as well as whether or not trading him would be a viable option. 

Right now, the Braves seem more than comfortable with Gattis doing the heavy lifting, which has caused Braves general manager Frank Wren to recline a little bit. 

Eleven games is a small sample size in a 162-game season. This Gattis fever could end up equating to that one fantasy tailback who goes for 230 yards in Week 1, only to never start another game for you again. 

With all factors considered, the most glaring argument for Gattis becoming the staple catcher for the Braves is the difference in paychecks. 

It could still be way too early to make a concrete assessment on Brian McCann, but right now the cards aren't in his favor. 


Mike Foster is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Mike on Twitter!