After struggling for much of the 2016 season, Andrew McCutchen appears to be turning it around. Is this his resurgence? Or just a tease?
For large portions of the 2016 season, Andrew McCutchen has struggled immensely for the Pittsburgh Pirates. After all, entering Wednesday afternoon’s game against the San Francisco Giants Andrew McCutchen, by the stats, was a below league average hitter. This was something I never thought I’d see.
Due to his struggles some people, myself included, were calling for Andrew McCutchen to be benched. While that may seem radical, it was deserved. After all McCutchen had just a .311 on-base percentage, .308 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 93 at the end of July.
The first week of August the Pirates played a three game series in Atlanta against the Braves. Manager Clint Hurdle benched Andrew McCutchen for the entirety of this series. And it appears that Hurdle doing this has paid off.
Beginning with the Pirates’ series against the Cincinnati Reds that began on August 5th, Andrew McCutchen has started to look like his self again. McCutchen has been better at the plate and in the field during this stretch. It appears that Clint Hurdle giving McCutchen that Braves series down to, using a Hurdlism here, re-calibrate has paid off.
In 53 plate appearances since his series off Andrew McCutchen is slashing .317/.472/.512/.984 with two home runs and three stolen bases. McCutchen also has a .428 wOBA and a 173 wRC+ during this stretch. Also, Andrew McCutchen’s ISO has jumped to .195 after being just .167 prior to this stretch.
The biggest change in Andrew McCutchen during this stretch is that he is walking more, making more contact, and striking out less. Through his first 431 plate appearances this season Andrew McCutchen had a 8.1 percent walk rate and a 24.8 percent strikeout rate. In his last 53 plate appearances he is walking at a 22.6 percent clip, and striking out at just a 15.1 percent rate.
Obviously, an improvement in McCutchen’s walk rate has led to him getting on base more often. Also, an improvement in contact rate has led to a drop in strike outs and more base hits. Not exactly rocket science stuff here.
Andrew McCutchen has also appeared to have a little extra pep in his step this month. He has had a better first step in the outfield and has made some catches that earlier in the season he was not making. Also, as I mentioned above, he has swiped three bags this month.
Speaking of his defense, Andrew McCutchen has also made some spectacular catches this month. Last Friday against the Dodgers he made an incredibly leaping grab to take away extra bases. Then Monday night in San Francisco he made a diving catch to rob Eduardo Nunez of a two-run double with the Pirates leading 7-4 in the seventh inning. This catch was, in total seriousness, one of the best I have ever seen a center fielder make.
In the month of August Andrew McCutchen has looked like Andrew McCutchen again. And it could not come at a better time for the Pirates. The Bucs find themselves in a heated playoff race, and getting their superstar back to old form could be what the team needs to earn a fourth consecutive postseason berth.
Throughout his Major League career Andrew McCutchen has made people look foolish. Usually the people he was making look foolish were opposing pitchers. However, he is currently making those of us who wrote him off look foolish. And I have never been so happy to be wrong before in my entire life.