Braves catcher Brian McCann, who recorded his 1,000th career hit Monday night during a win against the Pirates, has spent all 11 years of his career in Atlanta.
This just in: Braves are terrible at stealing bases this year
ATLANTA — The Braves went into the season, of course, without Michael Bourn, who was second in the National League a year ago with 42 stolen bases. But in spring training, the talk was that the Braves might actually swipe more bases this season than last.
After all, the Upton brothers had the capability of combining for substantially more steals than Bourn and Jason Heyward seemed to be coming into his own as a base runner.
But the Braves have stolen just 18 bases in 30 attempts and that ranks 13th — second-to-last — in the National League.
Obviously, these are the go-slow Braves rather than the go-go Braves.
What happened? Actually, it is pretty simple.
B.J. Upton and Heyward haven’t been reaching base nearly as often as expected. And nearly half of Justin Upton’s hits have gone for extra bases.
Reserve outfielder Jordan Schafer leads the team with seven steals in nine attempts. Justin Upton has a perfect success rate, but he has run just five times.
B.J. is just 3-for-6 on steal attempts and Heyward 1-for-3. The Braves’ success rate of 60 percent was way below acceptable range.
The Braves, who beat the Pirates 7-2 Monday, stole 101 bases in 133 tries last year, ranking ninth in the National League.
This season, strikeouts and homers are up.
Steals certainly aren’t.
ATLANTA — Brian McCann reached 1,000 career hits late Monday night in fitting fashion.
He showed off his power, reaching 999 hits with a two-run home run to right field and then got to 1,000 with his picturesque left-handed stroke, sending an opposite field single up the left field line against Pirates left-hander Mike Zagurski.
McCann went 2-for-3 in a 7-2 win against Pittsburgh to become the 25th player in franchise history to collect 1,000 hits as a Brave.
“It’s a cool moment,” said McCann, who was drafted by the Braves this time 11 years ago out of Duluth High School. “When you’re a kid you never think you’re going to get a hit in the big leagues, let alone 1,000. So it’s a cool milestone, and I’m hoping to get many more.”
McCann is in the final year of his contract before free agency, and with the emergence of rookie Evan Gattis and the interest McCann is likely to draw from American League teams, there’s a distinct possibility he’s playing out his final season at Turner Field. So Monday’s moment came with its share of nostalgia too.
McCann made sure to pause and enjoy it, tipping his cap to the 19,526 fans on their feet at Turner Field as first base coach Terry Pendleton retrieved the ball and tossed it to the Braves dugout.
“To get 1,000 hits here — it’s something I’ll never forget,” said McCann, a six-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger winner. “That’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
He’s about a week shy of the eighth anniversary of his major league debut, when he singled off Oakland right-hander Dan Haren in his first at-bat in his first game with his hometown team.
Now he’s got the admiration of younger teammates like Freddie Freeman, who stood on the top step in the Braves dugout with his Braves teammates in the seventh inning and applauded McCann.
“It’s awesome, especially with the homer (for 999),” Freeman said. “But it’s more impressive to watch him hit a lefty right down the left field line. I love to see when people go opposite field. And to get it for your 1,000th hit off a tough lefty like that? I’ve only been here for three years watching him, but it’s been a great time.”
GATTIS HONORED WITH SECOND STRAIGHT ROOKIE AWARD: Braves slugger Evan Gattis was named National League rookie of the month for the second consecutive month Monday, becoming the first player to win back-to-back rookie of the month awards since Jason Heyward did it for the Braves in April and May of 2010.
Gattis drove in 16 RBI in 22 games in May to lead all major league rookies. His six home runs were tied for first with Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko. Gattis is leading all major league rookies in home runs (12), RBI (32), extra-base hits (23) and slugging percentage (.593).
He produced at a high level without a regular home in the Braves lineup, rotating between catcher, left field and the designated hitter spot during interleague play. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has said keeping Gattis in the lineup is one of his top priorities going forward.
Three of Gattis’ home runs in May accounted for the tying or go-ahead runs in the sixth inning or later, two in the eighth inning or later. He also clubbed his first career grand slam.
UPTON LEADING ALL-STAR VOTING: Braves outfielder Justin Upton was second among all National League players in the first All-Star vote balloting released Tuesday afternoon. Upton trailed in total votes only Giants catcher and reigning NL MVP Buster Posey of Leesburg, who had 1,275,956 votes to Upton’s 1,184,249.
Upton leads all NL outfielders in fan voting, which determines the starters for the July 16 All-Star game at Citi Field in New York. Upton was selected to two All-Star teams as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 and 2011, but this would be his first fan selection.
In his first season with the Braves, Upton is tied for second in the National League with 14 home runs. He leads both Bryce Harper of the Nationals (1,182,532) and Ryan Braun of the Brewers (945,665) in the National League outfield vote.
Other Braves among top vote-getters include Chris Johnson who is third in the voting among NL third basemen behind Pablo Sandoval and David Wright. Andrelton Simmons is fourth in voting among NL shortstops. Freddie Freeman (first base), Dan Uggla (second base) and Brian McCann (catcher) were all fifth in voting at their respective positions. B.J. Upton is 13th among 15 NL outfielders in the voting.