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11/12/09 6:00 PM EST

McCann wins third Silver Slugger Award

Braves backstop primed to join elite company with his bat

ATLANTA -- When Brian McCann began experiencing blurred vision in April, there was reason to wonder about his promising career and even more reason to be concerned about how this problem might affect him throughout the rest of his life.

But seven months later, McCann can proudly say that those vision problems were simply a hurdle that he overcame on the way to once again proving to be among the game's top young offensive players.

When this year's Silver Slugger Awards were announced early Thursday evening, McCann was once again recognized as the National League's top offensive catcher. Just four full seasons into his career, the 25-year-old catcher has already received this honor three times.

Still in the early portion of his career, McCann has positioned himself to be join some elite company. Only six catchers have won more than three Silver Slugger Awards -- Mike Piazza (10), Pudge Rodriguez (seven), Lance Parrish (six), Jorge Posada (five), Gary Carter (five) and Benito Santiago (four).

Despite battling the vision problems through most of April and missing the first week of May, McCann still led all NL catchers with 21 homers, 94 RBIs and an .834 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). He ranked second with a .281 batting average.

1B Albert Pujols, Cards 47 135 .327
2B Chase Utley, Phillies 31 93 .282
3B R. Zimmerman, Nats 33 106 .292
SS H. Ramirez, Marlins 24 106 .342
OF Ryan Braun, Brewers 32 114 .320
OF Andre Ethier, Dodgers 31 106 .272
OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers 26 101 .297
C Brian McCann, Braves 21 94 .281
P C. Zambrano, Cubs 4 11 .217

McCann's vision problems stemmed from the fact that his vision had changed since he had undergone Lasik surgery at the end of the 2007 season. Initial attempts to remedy his situation with eye drops and corrective lenses proved to be unsuccessful.

But when McCann returned to regular action with the assistance of prescription Oakleys on May 8, he once again proved to be a productive force in the middle of the Braves' lineup. During his final 125 games, he hit .289 with 19 homers and 87 RBIs.

Still, when this season concluded, McCann opted to once again have his vision repaired through the Lasik surgical procedure.

With his vision scare and prescription glasses now in the past, McCann is looking toward the future and the opportunity to add to his honors and accomplishments, which include four All-Star selections and the opportunity this past year to serve as Team USA's catcher in the World Baseball Classic.

Dating back to the beginning of the 2006 season, McCann leads all Major League catchers in homers (86), RBIs (362) and doubles (143). His other Silver Slugger Awards were earned in 2006 and '08.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.