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Will the Real Casey McGehee Please Stand Up?

Wed, Jun 30, 2010

Buy or Sell?, Player Projections

Image courtesy of: Mike Watson

Casey McGehee delivered a breakout performance for the Milwaukee Brewers last season, batting .301 with 16 homers and 66 RBI in just 355 at-bats.

McGehee then silenced his doubters by batting .300 with nine home runs and 41 RBI through the first two months of 2010.

His bat has since cooled, however, forcing fantasy managers to question McGehee’s true worth.

To completely understand McGehee’s value, let’s examine his relatively unknown past.

Drafted in 2003 as a 10th round pick, McGehee played first, second, third and shortstop during his six-year minor league career. He also caught a total of 93 games at three different levels.

McGehee displayed doubles power in the minors, and enjoyed his best season at Triple-A in 2008 with the Iowa Cubs (a team who’s home games I attended regularly as a scorekeeper for Baseball Info Solutions).

McGehee’s bat was a big reason for the I-Cubs success that season, as he hit .296 with 12 homers and 92 RBI in 550 plate appearances. Still, his future as a big league hitter appeared non-existent.

A September call up ensued, but the Cubs were forced to let him go at season’s end. The Brewers gave him a look in spring training the following year, and he didn’t disappoint, making the team as an infield reserve.

The former Fresno State Bulldog found himself in a platoon at second base with Craig Counsell by June, and earned regular playing time at third base soon after.

639 at-bats later, the now 27-year-old McGehee has 28 career homers and 116 RBI in 189 games with the Brewers.

Because of his recent struggles (.209 average, three homers, nine RBI in June) however, fantasy managers are beginning to question his true value.

After some quick number crunching, it’s become obvious to me that now is a great time to buy-low on Casey McGehee. Here’s why:

McGehee’s 2009 rookie campaign was viewed by some as a fluke, and for good reason. In six minor league seasons, he hit .279 and never topped 12 homers in a single year.

Comparing his 2009 totals to his numbers through three months in 2010, however, suggests his success this year has been legit.

  PA R HR RBI AVG
2009 394 58 16 66 .301
2010 316 34 12 50 .271

 

The biggest difference from last season is his drop in batting average, which can be explained by his 14.7 percent line drive rate (21.6 percent last year).

His 2009 BABIP (.330) has dropped to .288 this season, but should begin to rise as he breaks free from his recent slump. This, of course, will boost McGehee’s batting average as well, though he’s likely more of a .280 hitter.

McGehee’s walk and strikeout rates are both respectable and in line with his 2009 totals, as are his HR/FB and above-average contact rates.

At his current pace (over a conservative total of 550 at-bats), McGehee is on his way to a 66-run, 23-HR, 97-RBI reason. Still eligible at second base, those numbers are extremely valuable considering top two-baggers Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia recently hit the DL.

Looking forward to 2011, McGehee is a definite top-10 option at a dwindling third base position. In fact, you could argue he’ll be ranked as high as sixth among players at the hot corner in his age 28 season.

Planning a trip to see Casey McGehee and the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park? Check out StadiumJourney.com for insider info on local transportation, nearby restaurants, and an in-depth review of Miller Park.

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