The Brewers did their part to make the argument for McGehee in the National League half of the rookie race. During the final homestand, they distributed signs that promoted "MVPrince" on one side and "Casey for Rook-hee of the Year" on the other.A waiver claim from the Cubs who reported to 2009 Spring Training as a long shot to make the Brewers' roster, McGehee took advantage of incumbent third baseman Bill Hall's continued slump and became the team's most pleasant surprise. He played in only 116 games, but led NL rookies with 66 RBIs, ranked second with a .301 batting average and tied for second with 16 home runs. McGehee finished strong, batting .337 with five homers and 26 RBIs in September and October to win NL Rookie of the Month. Only the Phillies' Ryan Howard, with 27 RBIs, had more than McGehee. Still, McGehee doesn't think he'll win when the Baseball Writers' Association of America announces the top rookie on Monday afternoon. The award is decided by a vote of BBWAA members.
"I never set that as something I was worried about or even wanted to think about," he said of the award. "To me, it's just as nice to be mentioned in that category. So that's the thrill of it for me, and I'll look back and be proud that my name was in there.
"But I still feel the same as I have all along. For the most part, it's an award for big-time prospects. It would be awesome if somebody proved me wrong, but by no means do I think that's going to happen."McGehee's picks would be pitchers J.A. Happ of the Phillies or Tommy Hanson of the Braves, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen or perhaps D-backs outfielder Gerardo Parra. Solid picks; Happ led NL rookies with three complete games and 119 strikeouts, and tied for the lead with 12 wins. With a 2.93 ERA, Happ finished a close second to Hanson's 2.89. A pitcher has not won NL Rookie of the Year honors since Colorado's Jason Jennings in 2002, so it's also worth looking at the hitters. McCutchen had a nice all-around season, hitting .286 (fifth among NL rookie hitters), with 74 runs scored (second), 54 RBIs (third) and 12 homers (tied for fourth). He also played good defense, notching 10 outfield assists. McCutchen's Pirates teammate Garrett Jones also has a case with a .293 average that ranked third among rookies, behind McGehee. In Arizona, Parra was fourth in average at .290 and second to McGehee with 60 RBIs. Colorado's Dexter Fowler scored 74 runs, ranked second with 29 doubles and led NL rookies with 10 triples, 27 stolen bases and 67 walks. McGehee didn't mention one rookie who might just win. Florida outfielder Chris Coghlan led rookies with a .321 batting average, a .390 on-base percentage, 232 total bases, 84 runs scored and 31 doubles. If one of those players wins, McGehee will have to settle for the satisfaction of a solid season and an opportunity to begin next year as the Brewers' starting third baseman. The team also has prospect Mat Gamel knocking on the door of the big leagues, but club officials say that at the moment, McGehee has the inside track. McGehee's breakthrough "probably slows Mat's progress to the big leagues a little bit," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "The big question with Casey McGehee is, can he carry over this year into next year? I keep saying that [Dodgers third baseman] Casey Blake developed late in his career, at 28, 29 years old. Is Casey McGehee Casey Blake? "Those things happen in our game." McGehee turned 27 last month. He played most of 2009 on a bum knee, but underwent postseason arthroscopic surgery to clean out loose bodies. Assistant general manager Gord Ash said that the problem could persist in future years, but praised McGehee as an "excellent worker" who could push through pain. Is McGehee proud of the way he played through the injury? "I don't know if 'proud' is the right word, because it's part of the job description to be ready to go every day," McGehee said. "I think there's a huge difference between being injured and being hurt. If you can get out there and play, you should get out there when you're called upon. If it's injured, you have to be big enough to say, 'I'm really not healthy right now.' That's totally different. But if you're just a little banged up, you should go out and play." Will he be rewarded for that play on Monday? The winners are expected at about 1 p.m. CT.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.