Casey McGehee, a rookie utility infielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, is carrying over his hot June into July.
The big question isn’t when will the 26-year-old rookie’s heroics end? Rather why did he have to wait so long to get a shot? The guy can obviously compete at the highest level, and his success isn’t a fluke. His minor league career numbers will prove that.
I guess the answer is obvious, he just needed to find a new team. The Chicago Cubs, who drafted him in the 10th round of the 2003 draft, waived him this past offseason. McGehee, a third baseman who also plays second, first, outfield and catcher, was quickly picked up by Milwaukee and has never looked back.
McGehee, a Soquel High alum who shined at Frenso State, went from reserve player to full-timer essentially May 19 and once he got his feet settled, he’s been a force offensively. He batted .368 last month (28-for-76) and is hitting .344 on the season (46-for-134) — tops among all Brewers starters.
If he had enough plate appearances — he needs an average of 3.1 per team game to be eligible — he’d be second to only Florida’s Hanley Ramirez in the National League batting race.
More than average, McGehee is hitting with pop and to all fields. He’s batting in the No. 5 spot behind slugger Prince Fielder and has been reaping the benefits of hitting with runners on base. He has 10 doubles, six home runs and 27 RBIs and 23 runs scored. Opposing teams have often pitched around or intentionally walked Fielder to get to McGehee and the rookie has made them pay for it.
He attoned for a costly fielding error against the New York Mets by smacking his first MLB grand slam June 29. It was his fifth homer in a 13-game span. (He was stunned by fans begging for a curtain call as he quickly returned to the dugout — still peeved about the error — to scream into his batting helmet. Yeah, the guy had incentive: he was booed off the field after his defensive miscue. What does that tell you about his makeup?)
The thing about McGehee, he’s a fighter. He battled too long and too hard to get to this level, constantly being thrust into a new role by a team — the Cubs — that didn’t see him in its future plans, not with guys named Ramirez, Soto and Lee on the team.
Aftert the Brewers snatched McGehee off waivers they told him he’d have a shot to make the roster during spring training. McGehee came through big time to make the opening day squad.
He’s not going to rest on his current success, not with a wife and child to support. He’s motivated to find success at this level and wouldn’t change his approach if he had a 10-year contract in hand.
But passion is one thing and results are another. He’s turning in both daily.
A flurry of fantasy players took notice in McGehee’s production and he is now taken in most Yahoo! leagues.
ESPN has taken notice too, as McGehee has been seemingly a nightly highlight producer.
On July 4 against the Cubs, McGehee was 4-for-5, falling a double shy of hitting for the cycle. On July 5, he was 3-for-4 against the Cubs. In five games against the Cubs this season, he’s 10-for-20 (.500) with a triple, home run, six RBIs. He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder, not just against the Cubs, but all teams.
After the game July 5, McGehee maintained the perspective of a player who is a free-agent after this season.
“I think it would have been just as enjoyable no matter who it was against,” McGehee told mlb.com. “I’m still trying to make my way with this organization and this club. I don’t really have the luxury of thinking about the opponent.”