McCann first Brave to win five Silver Slugger awards

Brian McCann

Brian McCann

ATLANTA -- Brian McCann endured one of the worst six-week stretches of his career after returning from the disabled list in August. But his late-season slide did not keep him from becoming the first player to win five Silver Slugger Awards on Wednesday while playing for the Braves.

It marks the fourth consecutive year the Braves catcher has been bestowed with this honor, which is given to the top offensive performer at each position in both the National and American Leagues.

With just six full major league seasons under his belt, the 27-year-old McCann becomes the sixth catcher to win at least five Silver Slugger Awards. The others are Mike Piazza (10), Ivan Rodriguez (seven), Lance Parrish (six), Gary Carter (five) and Jorge Posada (five).

This marks the seventh time in the past nine years that a Braves catcher has won a Silver Slugger Award. Javy Lopez grabbed the honor in 2003, and Johnny Estrada won it in '04. McCann won his first in '06.

Tom Glavine and Dale Murphy stand as the only other players to win four Silver Slugger Awards while playing for the Braves.

Even with his late struggles, McCann ended this past season with a .270 batting average, 24 home runs and a .817 on-base plus slugging percentage. He led all major league catchers in home runs and ranked second in OPS to Arizona's Miguel Montero (.820).

It took McCann some time to find his power this year as he totaled just seven extra-base hits (two home runs) through May 16. But with some help from his older brother Brad, a former minor league player, the catcher righted himself and went on a tear that provided reason to wonder if he might hit 30 homers for the first time in his career.

McCann batted .323 with 16 home runs and a 1.013 OPS during a 53-game stretch from May 17 until July 26, the day he strained his left oblique muscle and altered the course of his season.

Anxious to begin helping his teammates again, McCann returned to the Atlanta lineup on Aug. 14. Over the next six weeks, it would become apparent that he returned far too soon.

McCann batted .180 with six home runs and a .638 OPS in 37 games after returning from the disabled list. His batting average dipped from .306 to .270, and his slugging percentage from .514 to .466 during that stretch.