The Brewers season has been marred by injuries, poor starts, fatigued bullpen arms and too-high expectations. There have been some bright spots, however. Prince Fielder has tied the club record for single-season RBIs, Ryan Braun has become the second fastest player to reach 100 homeruns, new addition Trevor Hoffman is padding his all-time saves lead and Alcides Escobar is finally getting his time in the Major League spotlight. Despite the standings, the list could go on and on.
In addition to all that, Casey McGehee, added to the 25-man roster back in April as a bench player, has gotten his first full season with a Major League ballclub and has proven himself as a valuable asset. More than that, McGehee has become a legitimate contender for NL Rookie of the Year. I think it’s unlikely that he’ll win the honor, but let me plead the case on why I think he should.
Top 10 NL Rookies
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres
Chris Coghlan, OF, Florida Marlins
Chris Dickerson, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Dexter Fowler, OF Colorado Rockies
Travis Ishikawa, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Garrett Jones, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Casey McGehee, IF, Milwaukee Brewers
Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Those 10 guys represent the top hitting performers of all NL rookies this season. I’m going to break down the top categories by where Casey ranks and who’s got the highest ranking, for a quick comparison.
G: 101, 6th (132, Rasmus)
AB: 303, 7th (436, Coghlan)
H: 92, 6th (132, Coghlan)
AVG: .304, 1st
RBI: 58, 1st
R: 51, 7th (72, Coghlan)
HR: 15, T – 2nd (19, Jones)
TB: 155, 6th (192, Coghlan)
SLG: .512, 2nd (.586, Jones)
OBP: .368, 3rd (.376, Coghlan)
Out of the top 10, it’s obvious there are 2 names that are standing out way above the rest. But that’s not to say McGehee hasn’t proven himself worthy. What it’s really going to come down to is the voting. Garrett Jones has playing time in the majors over the last 4 seasons and the Pirates have pretty much accepted this season as a failure. That’s not to say what Jones has been able to do, despite Pittsburgh admitting 2009 was a terrible year, isn’t impressive. (And he’s def making the revamped Top 10 Hotties list. But that’s to be continued on a later date.) Chris Coghlan is absolutely a top contender for the award, and rightfully so. The kid has pushed his way to the top 5 in all batting categories and it’s going to be hard to see how he couldn’t win it. Another guy worth mentioning is another Pirates outfielder, Andrew McCutchen. His arrival to the big leagues was much-anticipated and it’s clear why. Despite not leading any categories, his name shows up pretty consistently in the top 5, as well. And his defensive skills are pretty on-point.
My plea for Casey McGehee is the fact that he started off the year basically as a bench player, working in a 3-man platoon at the Brewers’ hot corner with Craig Counsell and Bill Hall. Fortunately for McGehee, a rather unfortunate season-ending injury of everyday 2nd baseman Rickie Weeks afforded McGehee consistent playing time, splitting duties at 3rd with Hall and 2nd with Counsell. He was good at 2nd, but it became clear 3rd base was a more comfortable fit. Still, Hall was on the team and as a tenured player, albeit a mediocre one, he garnered more starts. When McGehee did step in, he proved his worth and Hall was forced to sit more and more, eventually being traded to the Mariners, which gave McGehee the starting nod at 3rd nearly every game. Not only has Casey’s bat been hot, but his defensive skills should definitely warrant a second look when it comes time to cast the votes. Sure, he’s got a few errors, but nobody’s perfect. Quite honestly, and I’ve said it before, I know it’s unlikely that Casey McGehee will win Rookie of the Year. But seriously, I feel like this guy plays with more heart and tenacity than I’ve seen in a while. Even if he doesn’t get it, he’s definitely more than deserving of it.
So that’s it. My 2 cents on the matter.
Let’s talk a little bit about this Brewers-Cubs series though. Just a little.
I will take a split. A split is better than a loss. Especially when the Brewers scored 16 runs in the last 2 wins, and will ride those wins back home to Miller Park.
Alcides Escobar was supremely awesome last night, going 4-5 with 3 RBIs and turned 2 doubles plays, 1 of which was just beautiful to watch. Especially after that whack DP the Cubs supposedly turned in the top half of the inning. (Andres Blanco stepped off 2nd before the ball was anywhere near his glove. Neither here nor there. The Crew still won.) It took last night’s game for me to actually sit back and come to terms with the fact that JJ Hardy is replaceable and Escobar will be the way to go come 2010.
Today, the Brewers had an early 1-0 lead taken away, but Jody Gerut’s grandslam (yes, I said Jody Gerut) put them back on top, giving Dave Bush and the Crew a much-needed win.
Tomorrow the Crew comes home to face the Astros over the weekend and then the Cubs come to Miller Park for one last showdown before the Phillies wrap up the final homestand of the season. It’s kind of sad to think I only have 2 more trips to the hometown ballpark before season’s end (of course, there’s the trip to Busch Stadium after that), but in a way, once the year is over, it means the powers that be in Milwaukee can start thinking ahead towards next season. And, of course, it means I can focus all my sports energy on football.
Manny Parra will be replaced by Chris Narveson(1-0, 4.67 ERA) again tomorrow night. Narveson takes the mound against the Astros’ Bud Norris (5-3, 5.44 ERA).