0

Braves' McCann deserves first all-star start

It's time for Brian McCann's fans to rally. Time to take the lead of what a group of his supporters in New York already have done.

Since the Atlanta Braves catcher's roots stem from central New York, his backers up there have created www.mccannyoudigit.com, a fan site to spur votes for McCann to start in next month's Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Although he grew up in Duluth, his parents and family have ties to New York, which will host the final All-Star Game at Yankees Stadium on July 15 before the historic park is replaced with a new one.

It would be nice for McCann to start in New York, but first he needs a push in the voting.

The New York fan site is trying to do its part, touting "Just because we're in NY doesn't mean we can't support our Atlanta boy" and linking Web surfers to MLB.com's All-Star voting page.

A similar surge of votes from McCann's home in Gwinnett would be nice, which will hopefully get him ahead of the current National League votes leader at catcher, Chicago Cubs rookie Geovany Soto. There is no shortage of Cubs fans, so Braves fans have to step up if they want McCann in the No. 1 spot.

There isn't much doubt that McCann, already a two-time All-Star at age 24, will be picked as a reserve for his third straight appearance. But he also deserves his first start, not necessarily because he's our Gwinnett guy, but because the numbers back him up.

Even with a slump of late, McCann is still hitting .305. He leads all major league catchers with 12 home runs and is third overall with 38 RBIs. He's tied with Soto for most doubles by an MLB catcher with 19 and he also is first in either league with a .573 slugging percentage. Not to mention he's a quality defensive catcher.

Soto's numbers are comparable on a power level, but his .281 batting average is 24 points lower than McCann's and also trails two other NL catchers having good seasons - the Dodgers' Russell Martin (.321) and the Giants' Bengie Molina (.327), although neither has the power numbers of McCann and Soto.

McCann also ranks first in ESPN's Player Rater, which stacks up players based on statistical analysis. Soto is just fourth in the Player Rater, also trailing Martin and Molina.

Soto also doesn't have the three-year track record of McCann, who hit .333 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs in 2006 and hit .270 with 18 homers and 92 RBIs last season. The lefty has continued to rake this year, despite the physical demands of playing a position that isn't too great on the body.

So if you want to reward McCann for his stats, because he's a Brave or just because he's a good guy, visit mlb.com and vote. You have until July 2.

That's certainly enough time to start a rally.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.

Click on slide show to vote

2006 in Pittsburgh

2007 in San Francisco

2008 in New York

All-Star stories from Pittsburgh

All-Star stories from San Francisco

McCann's Fan Site