Gosh, Casey McGehee sure has been bad this year. You might not have realized that, so it's a good thing I'm here to fill you in. He's been so bad that the Giants sent him to AAA, where in two games he has also been bad. If I were a responsible baseball writer, I would say that's meaningless small sample size chicanery, but I'm not, so I get to treat .222/.222/.222 in AAA as his true talent level. Analysis is fun!
So what's been different about Casey McGehee this year that's made him so bad? And no, smartass, "everything" isn't an acceptable answer. Just because it's true doesn't mean I can get a whole article out of it. So here's what's wrong: uh . . . everything, really. All of it. The everything.
Let's start with his plate approach, because it's bad. According to Pitchf/x, in his career, McGehee has swung at about 26% of balls outside the strike zone and 62% of ones inside it. This year, those numbers are up to 32% and 68%, respectively. And so, shockingly, since he's swinging at a lot more pitches, he's making a lot less contact. Let's put this into context: he's swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone and making less contact than Pedro Feliz did as a Giant. So it's no surprise that he's both falling behind 0-1 and swinging and missing much more than he ever has.
But that's not the whole story. Brandons Crawford and Belt swing and miss more than McGehee, and they're both having good years. So what else is there? Well, McGehee is worse on every pitch than he was last year. In fact, according to the pitch values on Fangraphs, he literally doesn't have a strength. It's been five years since he was good against fastballs, but last year, he could at least hit sliders and cutters. This year, that's all fallen off dramatically, which probably relates to those plate approach numbers I gave in the last paragraph. When those pitches move outside the zone, McGehee's swinging now, which means he gets bad results, and then Matt Duffy replaces yet another pair of McGehee's contact lenses, and then McGehee can't see the next pitch either, and guess who gets a shot at third. Veteran move, Duffman. Veteran move.
Of course, other teams know all about that; they have scouts, after all, which seems pretty dumb. What's the point of winning the World Series if all the other teams get to still have scouts everywhere? So they're throwing less fastballs and a lot more cutters and sliders, and not only is McGehee missing more, decreasing his BB rate and increasing his K rate, but when he makes contact outside the zone it's weak contact, so he tends to pound the ball into the ground. When Casey McGehee pounds the ball into the ground, since he's slow, he tends to hit into a lot of double plays. When he hits into a lot of double plays, Giants fans get angry and exasperated and pine for Jose Castillo.
Okay, not really. I'm sorry, Casey. That was harsh. You didn't deserve that.
Casey McGehee seems like a nice person, I saw him play last night in Sacramento, and I'm rooting for him. He's been a good teammate through all of his struggles, and that's worth a lot, so now I feel bad for making that Matt Duffy joke before. The Giants have a little more than a week to decide what to do with McGehee, and it's clear that they want to give him every chance to contribute. If his eye really is the problem, then hopefully he can work it out and return to being a productive baseball player for the baseball team that I root for. This would be the ideal outcome. Let's hope that it happens.