Following a year playing in Japan, the seven-year veteran returned to Major League Baseball and took over full-time third base duties for the Marlins. He slashed .287/.355/.357 with four home runs and 76 RBI. His 177 hits were fourth-most in the NL, earning him the nickname “Hits McGehee” along the way.
I have given McGehee more grief than he might deserve, but here I am giving the man his dues. In 2014 he looked nothing like the player he was when we last saw him in 2012 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees. That year he hit an atrocious .217/.284/.358 in 352 plate appearances. Despite hitting only four home runs this season, McGehee was one of the most consistent Marlins hitters and protected Giancarlo Stanton in the cleanup spot virtually all year. He played in a career-high 160 games, 158 of which were starts at third with one start at DH.
He also very nearly made his first All-Star game. Leading the league in hits at the All-Star break, McGehee was one of the finalists for the MLB.com Final Vote, which ultimately went to Anthony Rizzo.
McGehee was one of the best bargains in baseball in 2014, playing on a one-year, $1.1 million deal. He was a 1.1 WAR player according to Baseball-Reference. How’s that for symmetry?
A panel of 64 NL players cast votes for the award, with McGehee receiving 26 votes. He got the nod over Tim Hudson (17 votes), Matt Kemp (15) and Starlin Castro (2) to become the first Marlin ever to be named NL Comeback Player of the Year.