Brian McCann: Down Year or Start of the Decline?

Aug 28, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) singles during the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Coming into the 2012 season, Braves catcher Brian McCann was my No. 1 ranked fantasy catcher, as he has been the most consistent and productive players at the position over the last 5 years. He came into the season averaging 22 home runs and 85 RBI over his 6 year career.

Last season, McCann hit .270-.351-.466 with 24 HRs, 51 runs and 71 RBI. While the home run total was up in 2011, his RBI total was the lowest of his career. Until this season. This season, he is hitting just .226-.297-.397 with 18 HRs, 39 runs and 58 RBI. The home run total is solid, but the RBI total and triple slash lines are far off his expected production.

This season, McCann has been battling a right shoulder injury that he says will need offseason surgery. Well, the shoulder has certainly cut his production, so much so that he is losing at bats to long time backup David Ross. Here is a look at McCann's monthly triple slash lines, HRs and RBI totals:

April: .229-.295-.386, 3 HRs, 9 RBI

May: .263-.349-.447, 4 HRs, 19 RBI

June: .193-.245-.330, 2 HRs, 7 RBI

July: .296-.354-.704, 9 HRs, 21 RBI

August: .181-.280-.181, 0 HRs, 2 RBI

September: .000-.000-.000, 0 HRs, 0 RBI (8 at bats)

There are two ways to look at his monthly splits above. One, the shoulder issue REALLY became a problem in August, or two, his July production is an outlier, and overshadows a bigger problem-his power is in a downtrend. Not counting July, his SLG was never higher than .447 in any month this season. Not good.

More on McCann after the jump:

In addition to the monthly drop in power, here is a look at his yearly ISO, SLG and BABIP figures, courtesy of FanGraphs:

2006: .240 ISO, .572 SLG, .332 BABIP

2007: .183 ISO, .452 SLG, .282 BABIP

2008: .222 ISO, .523 SLG, .306 BABIP

2009: .205 ISO, .486 SLG, .297 BABIP

2010: .184 ISO, .453 SLG, .297 BABIP

2011: .195 ISO, .466 SLG, .287 BABIP

2012: .171 ISO, .397 SLG, .222 BABIP

Even before his lousy 2012 season, McCann has seen his power and batting average of balls in play drop steadily since 2008. Is this something we can expect to continue going forward? Well, he is a catcher, and the fact that he hits left handed, the right shoulder injury probably sapped his power this season for sure. Should he have offseason surgery on the shoulder, it could impact his power production going forward as well.

His extremely low BABIP this season obviously negatively impacted his triple slash line, so I will blame that drop in the shoulder injury, but I do worry, as stated above, that his power production may continue to decline.

His draft position will obviously fall in 2013 so he could prove to be a bargain, but even if you can draft him in the middle rounds, I am not confident, at this point, that his power will return to prior year levels. As we saw in his monthly slash line analysis above, his SLG and ISO were all over the place, but show that, despite his huge month of July, he isn't hitting for as much power as in the past.

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