Nobody in their right mind can deny that Andrew McCutchen is a great ballplayer, and a special talent as a hitter. McCutchen’s numbers over the course of his career so far have been just about everything that we could ask for, and more in some respects. His hitting last year was absurdly good, showing the kind of skills that he has and will continue to improve on throughout his career. Why did McCutchen hit so well last year? Because last year, more than any other year before, he used all parts of the field, and tried to drive the ball to gaps for base hits.
In 2011, when Andrew tried to shoulder the load as a power hitter, his average took a dip overall, and his strikeouts rose as well. When Andrew tries to hit the tar out of the ball, he gets pull happy, and hits a lot of warning track fly balls.
When he swings the bat like a man who just wants to drive the ball somewhere, he hits well (including for more power). For a perfect example of this, see his walk-off home run from last night, here.
Although Andrew seems to go slightly out of the zone for the ball (it was a two strike count), the swing he puts on this ball is not a swing of a man hell-bent on hitting a home run, but rather of one who wants to get a base hit.
Those are the kinds of swings that made McCutchen an MVP finalist in the NL last year, and those are the kind of the swings he needs to start putting on the ball on a regular basis to be the kind of hitter he was last year.
McCutchen needs to pull the ball less, hit the ball where it’s pitched, and just try driving the ball more. Not only will the batting average come up, but the home runs will come with it as well. McCutchen is playing well right now, but if he just makes a few tweaks to his swing, he could launch into the stratosphere like he did last year as well.
Tonight, it was obvious to everyone McCutchen was barreling the baseball. The BABIP Gods that were so kind to McCutchen last season are getting their due now.
It seems if Cutch makes a few simple adjustments to his swing, the power, the numbers, the Buccos wins will continue to stack up in the month of May.