Lesser Brewers: Casey McGehee

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER1: Casey McGehee #14 of the Milwaukee Brewers flips his bat in the air after striking out in the 6th inning during their game against the St Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on September 1, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 8-4. (Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)

We could only put off talking about Casey McGehee for so long, I guess.

In a season full of shining moments for the Brewers there was arguably no darker cloud than McGehee. A year removed from winning the Milwaukee BBWAA's Brewer MVP award, McGehee hit .223/.280/.346. After posting two fWAR in 2009 and 3.3 more in 2010, McGehee was worth just 0.3 in 2011.

Looking at his batted ball numbers confirms what you probably already knew if you've watched McGehee this season: A full 50% of the balls he put in play in 2011 were hit on the ground, a new career high. Combine that with a career-low 16.2% line drive rate and an absolute lack of speed and the cause of McGehee's offensive tailspin is relatively easy to spot: He was making poor to terrible contact a large chunk of the time and didn't have the physical capacity to turn poorly hit balls into base hits very often. That's also part of the reason he led the team by grounding into 19 double plays. To be honest, I was surprised it was only 19.

Given those numbers, the most surprising fact about McGehee might be the fact that the team still played him in 155 games. Only Prince Fielder made more appearances. In fact, Fielder, Ryan Braun (150) and Yuniesky Betancourt (152) were the only Brewers to play more than 140 games. In the playoffs, however, he was replaced at third base by Jerry Hairston Jr.

As noted above, McGehee is only one year removed from a very good 2010 season, and two years removed from a breakout campaign in 2009. There's still some reason to believe he could contribute something of value to this team in the years to come. Maybe having a long offseason to regroup or a new hitting coach next spring will help him start fresh and get back to being the hitter he was before this disaster started. But it remains to be seen if the Brewers will give him that opportunity.

Contract Status

McGehee's contract situation is one massive factor working against him at this point. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to receive $3.1 million for 2012. That's a pretty high number for a bounce-back candidate, and at that price the Brewers may have to consider non-tendering him to pick up some payroll space to use elsewhere.

Assuming they keep him around, McGehee is under team control through the 2014 season.

Best Game

McGehee only hit 13 home runs in 2011, but three of them came on the same day against Edwin Jackson and the Cardinals. In a 10-5 Brewer win on August 3 McGehee drove in five runs with this trifecta:

McGehee also hit pinch hit home runs to win games on April 10 and July 6.

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