Cashman Turns Water Into Wine With McGehee

AP

Tuesday, Brian Cashman turned Chad Qualls into Casey McGehee and $250,000. It was a win-win for both teams, with the Yankees dumping a struggling relief pitcher, and the Pirates dumping their struggling corner infielder.  In 2012, McGehee has slumped to a .230/.297/.377 triple slash, which is actually slightly better than his 2011 numbers. This 29 year old wasn’t always OPS’ing in the .600’s. From 2009 to 2010, and between 1064 plate appearances, McGehee hit .291/.346/.477 with 39 homeruns for the Brewers. The once rookie of the year candidate has struggled mightily over his last season and a half, but I think it’s fair to hold on to hope with his bat.

Casey McGehee’s Career Stats 
Season G PA HR BB% K% BABIP AVG OBP SLG
2009 116 394 16 8.6% 17.0% .330 .301 .360 .499
2010 157 670 23 7.5% 15.2% .306 .285 .337 .464
2011 155 600 13 7.5% 17.3% .249 .223 .280 .346
2012 92 293 8 8.2% 20.5% .266 .230 297 .377

When comparing McGehee’s BABIP through his first two seasons, the numbers appear in line with his batted ball profile and xBABIP, but in the last two seasons the BABIP is far lower than the expected results. For 2012, his 16.4% linedrives, 50.7% groundballs, and 32.9% flyballs amount to a .307 xBABIP. Currently, the infielder is 40 points lower than his batting profile suggests, hitting just .266 on balls in play. The culprit is a low batting average on groundballs. It’s estimated that slightly less than 30% of groundballs end up hits in baseball, but McGehee only sports a .171 batting average in this circumstance. Considering groundballs make up 50% of his hits, and he isn’t the slowest baseball player ever, there are a ton of groundball singles he’s been robbed of.

Casey McGehee’s Career Batted Balls
Season GB/FB LD% GB% FB%
2009 0.94 21.6% 38.0% 40.4%
2010 1.33 16.9% 47.5% 35.7%
2011 1.48 16.2% 50.0% 33.8%
2012 1.54 16.4% 50.7% 32.9%

To add to the bad luck, McGehee has played in one of the leagues worst run scoring parks for half the year. In 2012, PNC Park currently ranks 27th in homeruns and 28th in runs allowed. At home he posted a triple slash of .215/.289/.314, and hit only 1 homerun. His numbers on the road are far better, hitting .243/.304/.431. Getting him out of Pittsburg and into Yankee Stadium should help fix his home/away splits. While Yankee Stadium isn’t exceptionally friendly to most right handed hitters, McGehee is not just a pull hitter, he has 140 of his total 468 career hits to the opposite field. He also has his highest career batting average on balls hit to right field, batting .336.

Although he doesn’t own a career platoon split, his numbers in 2012 have inspired much more success against left handers. Against same side pitchers, McGehee is hitting just .222/.275/.341, but against lefties he sports a .250/.344/.463 triple slash. With Eric Chavez manning third base on days against right handed pitchers, McGehee should see the bulk of his at bats against lefties, which certainly can’t hurt.

Much to my dismay, he’s not Chase Headley, however he can put up some serious offensive numbers in his new ballpark, platooning, and waiting out his BABIP luck. On top of the upside bat, he can cover third base and first base well according to UZR, two areas the Yankees will need injury replacements in August. In a pinch, McGehee can also play second base, and he’s actually had a good amount of experience catching in the minors.

If he does hit, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the organization give him a chance in right field next year. Perhaps most importantly, he’s considered to have strong makeup and a reputation as a good clubhouse guy. With three more years of team control, Cashman turned Qualls, a DFA candidate, into a low risk/high reward utility player for the future. If McGehee starts hitting as his history and statistics suggest, he could spend the next few years in pinstripes.

Mike is the co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money. Outside of blogging baseball, Mike is also a musician, a runner, and a beer lover.

One thought on “Cashman Turns Water Into Wine With McGehee

  1. roadrider

    Well you could be right but from what I can see it would be just as easy to interpret McGehee’s stats as documenting two pretty good years followed by a decline as the league caught up with him or his skills deteriorated (or some combination of both). He’s quite obviously hitting fewer line drives and fly balls and more grounders. Since his walk rate has remained fairly steady it’s clear that the decline in OBP and power is due to some combination of a significant decline in the quality of his contact and luck. I’m hesitant to attribute all or most of the decline to luck because two seasons and nearly 900 plate appearances is an awfully long time for a guy to be unlucky.

    Yes, he has more value than Qualls (who doesn’t?) and his versatility is impressive but that wine that Cashman turned Qualls into might end up being more Ripple than Cabernet.

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