We have no idea what Casey McGehee is going to do in 2012. Seriously.

The Unpredictable Casey McGehee

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Over the recent years of my sports fanhood I have felt a disliking for predictions growing. As a kid in junior and senior high, it was seemingly always a competition to see who could predict sports most correctly. That was the way you would prove that you knew your stuff, by predicting the future. While I still dabble in predicting the future, I have gotten more and more turned off to the whole predicting the future thing.

If I was real into the predictions thing, I would probably hate Casey McGehee right about now. Here’s his career stats year-by-year:

2009: 116 G, 355 AB, .301/.360/.499, 16 HR, 1.97 K/BB
2010: 157 G, 670 AB, .285/.337/.464, 23 HR, 2.04 K/BB
2011: 155 G, 546 AB, .223/.280/.346, 13 HR, 2.31 K/BB

How do you account for that huge drop off? Guys don’t just drop 62 points in average for no reason, right? Nobody really knows the answer here. There was certainly some bad luck in the mix, his BABIP dropped to .246 after two season of over .300, but that can’t be the sole reason for the drop off. Some people chalk the drop off up to McGehee coming back to earth after two seasons of playing way over his head. McGehee was a 10th round draft pick that never stunned anybody in the minor leagues. He finally got a chance in the big leagues and he ran with it, which confused and surprised a ton of people. It would not have been hard to see some backwards steps coming, but again, the magnification of the whole thing is just strange.

One thing I noticed when looking at his batter pitch f/x is that pitchers threw him a lot less fastballs last year. Between 2009 and 2010 pitchers threw McGehee fastballs 40.4% of the time. That number went down to 30.7% in 2011. I am not saying that McGehee is a dead read fastball hitter that can’t hit off speed or breaking balls and that’s why he dropped down so much last year. I think if that was the case, pitchers would have figured it out in 2010 and not allowed him to have the big year he had. However, it’s worth noting that he performed that much worse when facing fastballs 10% less.

I’m not even going to attempt to predict what McGehee will do in 2012. That would be silly. I think it’s very safe to say that he won’t be as bad as 2011 nor will he be as good as 2009 and 2010. His stats will fall somewhere in the middle, that’s one prediction I’m comfortable making, because it covers so much space. Another safe bet to make is that he won’t hit for too much power. I’d be surprised if he hit half the 23 home runs that he hit in 2010. Obviously a lot of that can be attributed to how much less playing time he’ll get this year. The other reason I say this is because PNC Park is not going to help his power stroke. It’s a deep left and left center field and that’s not good news for a right handed hitter. He hit 13 home runs last year (three of which were in the same game), and I would be surprised to see him even get back to double digits in 2012.

The beauty of sports is that you can’t predict them. Anything can and often does happen. Nobody knows what Casey McGehee is going to do this year. The recent history of the Pirates suggests that he’ll be a complete bust much like the Ryan Church’s and Lyle Overbay’s that have come before him. We just have to wait and find out.

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