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822-game-thread-battle-of-two-guys-the-braves-drafted | August | 2008 Articles

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8/22 Game Thread: Battle of Two Guys the Braves Drafted

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Charlie Morton versus Adam Wainwright. The one who came out of nowhere faces the one who got away. Of course, Morton's clearly still a work in progress, while Wainwright's already one of the top pitchers in the league. Wainwright's fastball is a tick slower, but he throws it much more frequently than Morton does, over 50% of the time. In fact, according to Josh Kalk's PitchFX data, Morton throws his fastball less than 40% of the time, which is a bit less than I'd like, in my opinion. (However, he throws his sinker about 25% of the time, and it's only a couple mph slower than the regular fastball.) Much as a rock, paper, scissors thrower cannot allow himself to get too far away from rock, a power pitcher can't let himself fall so in love with his offspeed stuff that he gets away from his fastball. But enough about the two of them. Today, I want to talk about how amazing Brian McCann has been. It probably will not surprise you to hear that he is one of the greatest 24-year old catchers ever. What may surprise you is to hear how little competition he has. Among all catchers 24 and younger, there have only been 11 seasons in history of an OPS+ of 140 or better; McCann has two of them, 2006 and 2008. Torre has two more, as do Rudy York and Johnny Bench; no other catcher has more than one. (The other catchers on the list: Carlton Fisk, Mike Piazza, Joe Mauer, and William Fischer.) Since McCann was born in 1984, there have only been 4 such seasons, and he owns half of them. Moreover, there are only 4 catchers who have ever played 400 games before turning 25 and produced an OPS+ of 122 or better: Joe Torre, Joe Mauer, Johnny Bench, and McCann. In fact, since McCann was born in 1984, there have only been 19 players who have played 400 games before turning 25 and put up an OPS+ of 122 or better, and you've heard of all of them: Albert Pujols, Ken Griffey, Will Clark, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Cabrera, John Olerud, David Wright, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Canseco, Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, Juan Gonzalez, Joe Mauer, Grady Sizemore, Scott Rolen, and Barry Bonds. Those are Brian's peers. Unfortunately, he doesn't have too many teammates right now.

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