2010 MLB Predictions: What I Expect from Casey McGehee

Jesse MotiffSenior Analyst IMarch 12, 2010

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 04: Casey McGehee #14 of the Milwaukee Brewers fields against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 4, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

No player on the Brewers' roster had more of a breakout season in 2009 than Casey McGehee.

He went from a completely unknown commodity in spring training to finishing fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.

McGehee finished the year with a .301 average, 16 home runs, and 66 RBI while playing in only 116 games. In fact, he only started two games in the first six weeks of the season. Prior to May 19, he had only 16 at-bats.

On May 19, McGehee started for the injured Rickie Weeks at second base, and his remarkable season began.

He started the majority of games at second for the Brewers over the next two months until the team traded for Felipe Lopez. McGehee was then moved to third base and continued to produce great results.

McGehee had been stuck in the Cubs' farm system for several years, never making an impact at the major league level. The Brewers claimed him off waivers prior to the 2009 season, thinking he could be a useful bench player.

Needless to say, McGehee exceeded even the most optimistic expectations placed on him.

The 27-year-old enters camp this year as the odds-on-favorite to be the everyday starter at third base. Originally it was thought Mat Gamel would push him for the job, but Gamel has missed time recently with a sore right shoulder.

McGehee is a much better defensive option for the Brewers, but Gamel has a potentially far superior power bat.

While it would be better for McGehee's career to start, it would be better for the Brewers if he came off the bench and Gamel was the full-time starter.

It's very hard to imagine a player that lingered in the minors for years producing back-to-back very good seasons. That's not saying McGehee can't do it, but there is very little precedent for something like that to happen.

A player like McGehee that never showed any success in the minors can turn into a good player in the majors, but the odds are against him. Players his age usually amount to nothing more than a one-year wonder with the possibility of being a solid bench player.

The Brewers would have been smart to try to capitalize on his success and trade him this past winter. McGehee's trade value will never be as high as it was this past year, and the team could have traded for pitching depth.

Can McGehee produce a duplicate of the success he had last season in 2010? It's not impossible, but Brewers fans shouldn't expect it.

Should he be the everyday starter, it's a bad sign for the team. It means either Mat Gamel or Rickie Weeks is out injured or Gamel isn't working out as a full-time player.

McGehee could turn into a long-term replacement for Craig Counsell as a bench player with a strong bat that can play multiple positions in the field.

For 2010, fans should be happy if McGehee hits .280 with 15 home runs. If he does start, he'll be in prime position to do so.

He hit behind Prince Fielder for much of the season, and that would be his likely position in the lineup this year as well. Given what Fielder is capable of, McGehee should be hitting with runners on base all season long.

Casey McGehee's story is what makes baseball great: A player can go for years in the game in relative obscurity but become a household name almost over night. The challenge now lies in following up a great rookie season and avoiding a sophomore slump.


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