Will the Real Casey McGehee Stand Up?

We all thought about it.  Each of us had seen it before.  Many times before.

But just how nice would a solid-hitting Casey McGehee be for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012? All of us had the thought of the 2009 and 2010 Casey McGehee in our brains heading into the season.  You know, that slugger from 2009 and 2010 whose Milwaukee Brewers had an ownership stake in the Pittsburgh Pirates? Yeah, that one.

But, unfortunately, the Casey McGehee that we saw in April and May didn’t resemble that player.  Not even close.

Perhaps it was just a flashback from so many beatings from the Brewers, but McGehee seemed to be just what the Bucs needed to compensate for the shortcomings of Garrett Jones.  But when you look closer, McGehee also struggled against left handers in a big way last season; he didn’t walk much, he hit a ton of groundballs and fewer line drives. Was it a one year slide? Maybe just a blip?

Early on, it looked bad.  Heading into June, McGehee’s numbers were pitiful–190/281/250.  Hell, even the Lyle Overbay Experiment topped McGehee’s numbers and Overbay headed into last June with a 232/300/370 line.

But McGehee has caught fire this month when the Pirates offense looked like it was going to be left for dead on a nightly basis by the opposition’s pitching staff. McGehee is hitting .389 so far in June with three doubles, three bombs, and has driven in eight runs as he is starting to earn more playing time.

It’s still difficult to tell which of his three past seasons he will replicate this year. McGehee has had three distinct seasons as a professional in the show:  A very good season, a slightly above average season and the forgettable one that helped land him in Pittsburgh.

The right handed hitting McGehee has his walk rate up to over 12 percent , which is the highest of his career.  The 6’1″ 220-pounder has 19 walks.  Ho hum, right?  Well, in 2009 he had just 34 walks in 394 plate appearances, in 2010 he had 50 free passes in 670 plate appearances.  So 19 walks in just 157 PA this season is a great sign of what he has been able to do at the plate.

But – the key to his big season in 2009 was his ability to hit line drives. He did that at a 21.6 percent clip. In 2010 and 2011, that number dropped to 16 percent.

This year his line drive rate is up to 18.3 percent, as he is seeing a few more fastballs than he has the past two seasons. McGehee’s hot streak is a very good sign as he starts to climb out of the dreadful hole that he started the year in for the Bucs.

Stay tuned to see if McGehee keeps getting walks, and pulling those increasing number of fastballs into the seats.  God knows, the Bucs need a few more line drive hitters in that lineup.

Casey McGehee would be a big one.

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