In the wake of Pablo Sandoval’s departure this offseason, I spent a lot more time and energy rambling about Panda’s career and legacy with the Giants than I did pondering the prospects of the man who would serve as his replacement at third base. However, one simple tweet of mine from November summed up quite succinctly, I believe, my feelings on Casey McGehee as the Giants’ new third baseman. Summed it up better than any 8,000-word article of mine could, in fact:
Here’s my sad prediction for the Giants: they swing a trade for Casey McGehee and it doesn’t go well, at all.
— Paul Rice (@PaulieRice) November 19, 2014
Now, notice that my unparalleled genius is on display here for reasons twofold. First, that tweet was dated November 19, 2014. The Giants traded for McGehee on December 20, 2014. Second, “it” (that being McGehee’s tenure as a Giant) has not gone well, at all. So you see, I knew the Grand Casey McGehee Experiment was going to be a disaster a full month before it actually started. All hail me.
Let us not mince words. McGehee, as everyone knows, has been abysmal. After Wednesday’s loss to the Dodgers, he’s hitting .169 and he’s been grounding into double plays at a rate that would make A.J. Pierzynski blush (8 GIDPs in 16 games, to be exact). “Hits” McGehee pretty much turned into “Shits” McGehee the second he put on a Giants uniform.
Now, we should let a month’s worth of cold bat, especially at the beginning of the season, slide. Sadly, that’s not how the Twitterverse works. McGehee is the latest Giants player to be raked across the coals online on a nightly basis, and many Giants fans (not just the beer-drunk KNBR callers) are saying it’s already time to move on.
Actually, that’s putting it all too nicely. Some Giants fans want the team to move on, but not until after McGehee is beaten and stomped and chained to the bottom of McCovey Cove. McGehee has been the recipient of the sort of venom from Giants fans that I haven’t seen since the Armando Benitez days of yore. I mean, read that article. Some asshole actually wants the McGehee to die in a fiery inferno because he’s hitting a buck-sixty. The Internet: I get older, the man-children on it stay the same age.
Back on planet Earth, let’s ask if there actually is reason to believe that McGehee is going to rebound. Just based on the fact that he’s a career .262 hitter, which is 100 points higher than his current average, then the answer is yes. Is there reason to believe he’ll actually turn out to be a good hitter over the course of the season? This is where it gets murky.
Proponents will point out that McGehee had a higher OBP than Pablo Sandoval last year and he was a solidly above-average hitter for an NL third baseman. Critics will counter that he slugged just .357, hit just .243/.310/.310 in the second half, and (fancy this) led the league by grounding into 31 double plays. Add in the fact that he had washed out of baseball year before last and evidence is mounting that maybe McGehee isn’t a worthy successor to the Panda’s throne.
This isn’t meant to pile on McGehee. He isn’t the first hitter to have one horrible month where he can’t hit water falling out of a boat. Hell, Giants fans should be all too familiar with this; Sandoval himself hit a lousy .177/.262/.302 in April last year and he turned out fine. Give McGehee another month to right himself and maybe he’ll hit .296, like he did in May of last year.
So the Giants’ big offseason acquisition might look like a bust now, but let’s not overreact to what is still in the arena of small sample size. I realize that telling fans on Twitter and the Internets not to overreact is like telling the scorpion not to sting the fucking frog, but a player, especially a new player playing in a brutal park on hitters, deserves at least two (two-and-a-half?) months before earning our scorn. McGehee looks lost at the moment, but I’m cautiously optimistic about his season-long prospects, maybe just for the sole purpose of serving as the token dickhead contrarian. I unabashedly predict that he’ll end the season hitting something like .280/.340/.380, which would certainly be acceptable production.
Besides, the Giants traded for McGehee (cheaply, I might add) fully knowing that he was just a one-year plan. Worst case scenario here: McGehee stinks for a couple months and the Giants give Matt Duffy a shot. That’s not a sky-is-falling situation. I can, however, think of an even more terrifying scenario. A scenario where McGehee rights the ship, hits just well enough to be above-average from here on out, and the Giants rashly hand him a three-year deal this offseason. Now that’s a scenario that should have Giants fans losing sleep at night.