MILWAUKEE -- Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting, in results announced Monday. Not too shabby for a player plucked off waivers who didn't move into Milwaukee's starting lineup until May 19 and played the whole season on a bum knee.
Florida outfielder Chris Coghlan won the award in the NL and Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey took home the hardware in the American League. Coghlan, who led NL rookies in batting average (.321), runs (84), hits (162), doubles (31), total bases (232), multi-hit games (51) and on-base percentage (.390), was followed by pitchers J.A. Happ of the Phillies and Tommy Hanson of the Braves, outfielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and then McGehee.
McGehee received one first-place vote, three second-place votes and four third-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America for 18 total points, based on a 5-3-1 tabulation system. He was bidding to be the Brewers' second rookie winner in three years. Ryan Braun won in 2007, the first Brewer to win the honor since Pat Listach in 1992.
"I finished right about where I thought I would," McGehee said Monday after seeing the results. "I think you could have made a very strong case for a lot of people, and Coghlan was obviously very deserving. Congratulations to him.
"Now that this is over with, we can finally put 2009 to bed and focus on next year. I'm excited about the chance to improve on this year and help the team get to where it needs to be."
In 116 games, McGehee batted .301 with 16 home runs and led all Major League rookies with 66 RBIs. The Brewers didn't exactly expect that level of production coming. They claimed McGehee off waivers from the Cubs in October 2008, but entered 2009 Spring Training with Bill Hall as the starting third baseman and veterans Mike Lamb and Craig Counsell as backups.
McGehee's strong spring prompted the Brewers to release Lamb, and when Hall's slump extended into mid-May and Counsell was called to replace injured second baseman Rickie Weeks, manager Ken Macha turned to McGehee at the hot corner.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't confident. If I got a chance, I thought I would be successful," McGehee said in September. "I've always believed that, that's for sure. By no means do I feel like I have it figured out, but I knew that if I got a chance to be a part of the team I could be a big contributor."
He was a big contributor despite chronic knee pain that required arthroscopic surgery the week following the regular-season finale. McGehee has a lesion in his right knee, according to assistant general manager Gord Ash, that causes fragments of bone to break away. He could have had a more intensive surgery to inject healthy cells into the knee to promote re-growth, but it was a riskier procedure that could have sidelined McGehee weeks or even months into the 2010 season.
Instead, McGehee opted for what Ash termed a more "intermediate" fix. He's had no complications since the surgery, Ash reported on Monday morning.
McGehee confirmed that positive report, and said he is already a month into his rehab. He is scheduled to be in Milwaukee on Friday for a follow-up visit with Dr. William Raasch, the Brewers' head physician who performed the surgery.
"I feel good, and I would be absolutely shocked if he saw anything he didn't like," McGehee said. "It feels like a normal knee to me again, which is a good sign. It's back to the point now where I'm trying to get the muscles around the knee stronger."
Assuming he doesn't have a setback, McGehee should enter 2010 as Milwaukee's starter at third base, with prospect Mat Gamel waiting in the wings. That doesn't mean McGehee is taking anything for granted.
"As soon as you get comfortable, it comes up and bites you," McGehee said. "You stop working and you get complacent. I'm just trying to come in to play every day, and if I don't, be ready to come off the bench. That's how I'm always going to approach it in my career, whether I'm an everyday player or not."
Does he feel he's proven himself as an everyday player?
"I don't know," he said. "There's so much other stuff that goes into it. I feel like I had an OK year, but sometimes people worry about stuff like that, about [decisions] that are really not in their control. The only thing I can control is being in good shape come Spring Training, work hard in the offseason to prepare myself to play, and then it's really out of your hands. It's up to the guys who make the decisions to decide what they're going to do."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.