There’s no denying that Casey McGehee had an excellent season in 2009. His .300 batting average was the hallmark, but we shouldn’t ignore his .360 OBP and excellent .499 SLG, powered by a .197 ISO. Although I don’t feel that he was anywhere near the top of the list for rookie of the year (Andrew McCutchen, Randy Wells, and Colby Rasmus were all better), it was a very nice boost to a team with a big question mark at 3B entering the season.
I wouldn’t expect quite as big of a season out of McGehee at the plate. His .331 BABIP suggests some good luck, and I’m not sure he’s going to hit over 21% of his batted balls for line drives again either. I think he’ll be more like an average hitter this season – something in the .270/.330/.420 range.
With that kind of batting line, his production is going to be highly reliant on the quality of his fielding. His -7.0 UZR suggested that he simply wasn’t a major league quality 3B, but the sample size was very small. Scouting reports and great minor league defensive numbers from www.minorleaguesplits.com suggest that McGehee should be a better than average 3B. If so, McGehee’s a slightly above average player, and that’s just one more step towards this team making the playoffs.
Mat Gamel will be starting the season on the DL, and I’m not sure how much time we should expect him to see at 3B this year. I do think he has legitimate power, but he’s not going to be a good major leaguer if he strikes out 40% of the time. Still, it’s not the bat that I’m worried about. If his glove come somehow improve to, say, Mark Reynolds level, I would find that acceptable. If he were a -7.5 UZR player at 3B, with the kind of bat that he’s capable of, that would be, once again, at least a league average player, and possibly better. Gamel will be 25 this year, and it’s about time to put up or shut up.
In the minor leagues, Taylor Green looks to be the best future option at the position. As Dave Cameron put it, he’s a classic Tony Blengino guy, as he takes a ton of walks but has little to offer in the way of athleticism. He’s coming off an injury this year, and so he really needs a bounce back season in 2010 – something closer to his 2008 season in A+ where he hit .291/.387/.447. The only other player of note at the position appears to be Zelous Wheeler, and that’s only because his name is Zelous.