Brian McCann: Atlanta Brave Is League's Best Catcher and Should Be the NL MVP

Will BrownContributor IJune 22, 2011

HOUSTON - JUNE 12:  Catcher Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after Jason Michaels #4 of the Houston Astros was called safe at first base on a close call at Minute Maid Park on June 12, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

MLB Network did their list of the top players in the game this offseason, and they had Brian McCann way behind Buster Posey and Joe Mauer as catchers. Yet McCann has been a five-time All-Star in five full seasons and should get his first start in the game this year.

This season, there is no question who the best catcher in the game is and who should be at least a big time Most Valuable Player candidate: Brian McCann.

McCann has been good enough over his career to have a WAR of 24, one of the best since 2005. He's averaged over a WAR of 4.0 in his full seasons and could post the highest of his career this season.

His 2.6 WAR is the highest in baseball among catchers. Among catchers, he's first in average (.305), homers (13), RBI (43), OBP (.380), second in slugging (.523) and third in doubles (14).

Oh, and he's hitting .339 with RISP and an outstanding .400 with RISP with two outs. 

He may not have been leading in all of these categories if Buster Posey and Joe Mauer were healthy all season, but I am sure that he would be leading some of them, if not the majority.

McCann is on pace to put up a slash of .305/.380/.523 with with 28 homers, 30 doubles and 92 RBI. And you can throw in four stolen bases.

Of course, I don't understand why he has never started an All-Star game, but that is beside the point, as he has a pretty good lead right now.

Making the case for MVP is a little tougher to do, but I feel like he should be in the discussion, if not the winner.

One, he is completely dominating his position statistically. Other than Alex Avilla and maybe Yadier Molina, he has clearly been the best this season.

Two, could you imagine the Braves' offense without him?

We are 21st in the league in runs with 290, 26th in batting average at .239, 25th in OBP at .307 and 17th in slugging at .384.

No doubt the Braves' bad offense would officially be terrible with just a league-average catcher.

There are other very worthy players who could be MVPs, but McCann is playing phenomenal baseball under the radar. I say this with the least distaste possible, but if he were a member of the Phillies, Yankees or Red Sox he would probably be one of the two or three most talked about players in the game.

If McCann isn't the top candidate right now for the MVP award, he should at least be in the top five. The fact that he has done what he's done as a catcher while calling pitches for arguably the top pitching staff in all of baseball, should also give him some extra points.

He won't win the MVP award unless he tops the .300 average, 30 homers and 100 RBI mark, and the Braves would still likely have to win the division.

The fans of the Braves should be very happy, though, because you get to watch one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game in his prime and he's going to be ours for a long time.