Forgive the skeptics, because they have good reason. His BABIP is at .330, much higher than the league average, leading many to believe that McGehee's impressive numbers are largely lucky. To put it simply, more balls are falling in for hits than they should, and it's leading to some inflated statistics. This seems to be confirmed by McGehee's unspectacular numbers in the minors...while McGehee is currently sporting a pretty spiffy .890 OPS, he's never OPS'ed higher than .776 in the Cubs' minor league system.
Is it possible that McGehee is simply a late bloomer who's finally figured it all out? Sure. But it's also possible that the Brewers have another Bill Hall on their hands.
Hall, as you'll remember, never had great minor league numbers, either, before putting together a very solid few seasons in the Majors. The rest is history -- Hall got a big money extension, and regressed every season thereafter before completely imploding this season.
But let's not assume that McGehee is the second coming of Hall. For one, McGehee will be cheap for quite awhile, assuming the Brewers keep him around. There's also the fact that McGehee has shown much better plate discipline throughout his career than Hall ever did -- despite never having a very impressive OPS, a low OBP was never the culprit.
The main thing that's been curious about McGehee this year is the sudden spike in his power numbers. His career high SLG in the Cubs' farm system was .429 last year for Triple A Iowa. His SLG in Milwaukee so far is nearly 100 points higher.
Casey McGehee is not a .500 SLG player -- more than anything, that number is due to a still relatively small sample size and would decline if McGehee was ever to become an everyday player. If it's power the Brewers want, they're still better off playing Mat Gamel at third over McGehee. That doesn't mean he's a poor player; only that he really can't be expected to be much more than league average.
One of the biggest storylines this offseason -- aside from whether or not the Prince will have to give up his throne in Milwaukee -- is what will happen with McGehee. It's pretty clear that Mat Gamel should be the starting third baseman on Opening Day next season (then again, it's pretty clear that he should be starting now, but it's not happening). Rickie Weeks should be healthy and ready to go by Opening Day. Shortstop will be manned by either Alcides Escobar or J.J. Hardy. So where does that leave McGehee in the grand scheme of things?
He could certainly be useful as a super-sub, filling in sporadically at second and third, while being the first pinch hit bat off the bench. We all know that it's dangerous to assume a full season out of Weeks, too -- for all the improvement he was showing at the start of this season, it'd be wise for the Brewers to keep around a bit of insurance in either McGehee or Felipe Lopez.
The role in which McGehee is most valuable to the Brewers, though, is possibly as trade bait...especially if he keeps hitting this way to end the season. Let's assume McGehee keeps hitting this way to end the season. He'll have racked up nearly 20 home runs in only 350 or so ABs, put up a solid OBP, and provided protection in the lineup for one of the biggest sluggers in the league. Sure, some GMs will look at the same stats we're looking at and determine that it's not worth giving up much to get him. But never underestimate the number of bad GM's in the league that might be willing to overpay for the kind of production McGehee has given the Brewers this year. All it takes is one GM to decide that McGehee is worth a middle of the rotation starter or a decent prospect, and suddenly a scrap heap pick up turns into a coup for Doug Melvin.
As far as my own crazy trade ideas, it's been rumored that the Braves will be looking to move some of their starting pitching in order to acquire a bat or two. Would someone like Javier Vazquez be worth Casey McGehee and Corey Hart? Chipper Jones isn't getting any younger and probably can't be counted on to play a full season, while the Braves have shown interest in Hart in the past. It might be a rare deal that helps out both teams if Melvin is interested in competing in 2010.