Earlier today, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs posted an intriguing article on resident double-play machine Casey McGehee. Therein, he suggested that the Giants would be best served moving the struggling third baseman to the top of the order—the very top of the order, in fact.
His logic, expressly for the purpose of avoiding DPs, is sound. As Cameron pointed out, leadoff hitters almost never come to bat with a runner on first and less than two outs. In that sense, McGehee would not be hurting the team as much.
But is that the way San Francisco should be approaching it? Instead of making McGehee less of a detriment to the everyday lineup, why not take him out of the equation entirely?
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Look: I fully understand that the Giants have made a financial investment, albeit a small one ($4.8 million), in McGehee. I also get that Bruce Bochy believes in letting veteran hitters work their way out of slumps, particularly early in the season, and that said strategy has worked in the past. I’ll also give some credence to Cameron’s point that the Giants “don’t really have an alternative at third base,” though I’m personally of the opinion that a Matt Duffy/Joaquin Arias platoon would be serviceable.
Here’s the issue: With all due respect to Cameron, unless you’ve been watching McGehee on a daily basis, it’s hard to quantify exactly how much he’s been bringing down the team both at the plate and in the field.
Let me give it a shot using FanGraphs’ own metrics:
- McGehee’s WAR: -.7, tied for third-worst in Major League Baseball
- McGehee’s offensive rating (batting + base running): -6.5, 10th-worst in MLB
- McGehee’s offensive rating (fielding + positional adjustment): -2.2, second-worst among MLB third basemen
Those, in addition to the crux of Cameron’s article: McGehee’s league-worst RE24—a win-probability stat that factors in the negative impact of extra outs created by double-play balls.
All of these numbers underscore the poor performance we’ve seen with our own eyes, particularly since McGehee returned from a knee injury back on April 16. Bochy has repeatedly declared his starting third baseman fit to play, but he’s pretty much the only one who sees it that way:
That last tweet is of particular significance—it was the first time Boch has even hinted at the knee being an issue since McGehee’s “miraculous recovery” a couple weeks back. If the knee really is still bothering him (and I think we can all agree that it is), either bench the man until it’s not or, better yet, give him a full 15 days on the sidelines.
Duffy and/or Arias (the “or” for if one of them claims the job) can hold down the hot corner in his stead, and the Giants could even consider giving Adam Duvall another test drive with the gaudy stats he’s putting up in Sacramento (.366/.398/.671 slash line).
However they want to handle it, the bottom line is that continuing to hope against hope for a McGehee turnaround is not the answer.
No matter where he hits in the order—lead-off, seventh, or elsewhere—he’s only hurting the team.