The Marlins Were Smart To Trade Casey McGehee
By Scott Alfano
After having to play baseball in Japan in 2013 for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Casey Mcgehee had a fantastic 2014 with the Miami Marlins. He hit .287 with a .355 OBP and somehow drove in 76 runs while only hitting four home runs. While many saw this as a great cheap signing for the Marlins that they had to hold on to, the Marlins sold high and flipped him to the Giants for two prospect pitchers. For a number of reasons, this was the right move and the Marlins and they should be applauded as the team heads into a bullish 2015 season.
Mcgehee was supposed to become one of the great third basemen in baseball back in 2009 when he broke onto the scene. That season he hit .301 with 16 home runs and 66 RBI in 116 games with the Brewers. He was even better the next season, hitting .285 with 23 home runs and 104 RBI in 157 games. However, that was oddly the end of Mcgehee as a dominant hitter in the majors. He hit .223 in 2011 and hit power was cut in half. He hit a combined .217 for two teams in 2012, including hitting .151 in 22 games for the New York Yankees. If he wanted to keep playing baseball, Japan had to be the next move.
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McGehee certainly got his chance in Japan. He received 590 plate appearances in 144 games, most on the team, and slashed .292/28/93. He led the team in home runs and was second in RBI to former MLB player Andruw Jones’s 94. Japan seemed to get McGehee’s head back in the game and the Marlins took the cheap gamble.
The return on investment for McGehee was fantastic in 2014. They paid $1.1 million dollars for the most productive hitter on the team not named Giancarlo Stanton. However, his history is checkered. While 2014 was great, it is hard to just forget about those years when he could barely get on base.
Mcgehee is not a fast man. So unless he is putting the ball over the fence, he has to fight for every base he earns. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in his two below average years? .249 and .248. His BABIP in 2014? .335. Maybe it was Marlins Park. Maybe it was luck of the draw. However, the man with a career BABIP below .300 cannot sustain that high of an average. He will come back to earth next season.
Understandably, some fans and even team personnel are weary of Sabrmetrics. However, a stat like BABIP is not the product of a series of math equations that should scare anybody off. It’s an easy figure to determine, and it really shows a lot about a player. McGehee having a BABIP 100 points higher than his last two season in the majors is an anomaly more than “the new McGehee.”
The Giants were desperate for a third baseman after losing Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox, Yasmani Tomas to the Diamondbacks, and Chase Headley to the Yankees. Being able to get two prospect pitchers in an off-season that saw the Marlins lose a lot of prospects in an effort to win now was a move the team needed to make, especially with the recent addition of Martin Prado.
If you are not a fan of advanced statistics, consider this. McGehee had a .319 average before the All-Star game and a .243 average after the break. He peaked and was barely holding on to his early season stats.
There may be times that McGehee will help the Giants win games. In fact, that will happen. That is not a reason for the Marlins or fans to miss Hits McGehee because the Marlins had him for his best year since 2010. Martin Prado will help everyone forget about McGehee, especially when McGehee struggles to hit .250 in 2015.