Andrew McCutchen Needs Moved Back Up In The Batting Order
After a month of batting sixth, it is time for the baddest dude in the league to get moved back up in the lineup once again
After an abysmal start to the season, Andrew McCutchen is back. However, there is one problem. That problem is that Clint Hurdle and the Pirates continue to bat Andrew McCutchen sixth in the lineup on a daily basis.
On May 26th, McCutchen was moved from third in the lineup down to sixth. At the time this move made a lot of sense. Entering play on May 26th Andrew McCutchen owned a .274 on-base percentage, 18.4 percent strikeout rate, a .275 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 68. With numbers like this, he had no business batting third.
Starting with the Pirates’ game against the New York Mets on May 26th, however, Andrew McCutchen has been a completely different hitter. During this stretch, he has looked like the Andrew McCutchen of old at the plate. Due to this, it is time that he gets moved back up in the Pirate batting order.
During this stretch of games Andrew McCutchen has accumulated 107 plate appearances. In these 107 trips to the plate he owns a 15.0 percent walk rate, 15.9 percent strikeout rate, a National League best .742 slugging percentage, an on-base percentage of .486, a .500 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 216. He has also hit 8 home runs, 5 doubles, and a triple.
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Cutch has also been crushing baseballs the past month. He has been making hard contact 42.5 percent of the time, while soft contact has only occurred 19.2 percent of the time. He has also pulled the ball 46.6 percent of the time which is great to see, because, contrary to popular belief, Andrew McCutchen is at his best when he is pulling the ball.
With this recent turnaround at the plate the Pirates need to move Andrew McCutchen up in the batting order for a few reasons.
First off, once again, he is the Pirates’ best hitter. You always want your best hitter to get a plate appearance in the first inning of a game. Due to this, McCutchen needs to be batting second or third.
Secondly, he has zero protection batting sixth. When Andrew McCutchen is in the six hole he often times has subpar hitters such as Chris Stewart, Elias Diaz, and Max Moroff hitting behind him. This gives other teams zero incentive to throw McCutchen strikes and will lead to him drawing a ton of walks.
Finally, moving McCutchen up in the batting order maximizes his plate appearances. Similar to wanting them to always make a trip to the plate in the first inning, you want your best hitter to get as many plate appearances as possible. And a hitter will always get more plate appearances when hitting in the top three spots of the batting order, as opposed to hitting sixth.
Drawing a lot of walks and being a table setter is not a bad thing, however, for that to be productive you need good hitters behind you. When batting sixth, that is something Andrew McCutchen does not have. Also, by working around McCutchen, other teams take away his ability to hurt them by driving in runs. It is very easy for opposing teams to gameplan around McCutchen when he is hitting that low in the lineup.
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Moving forward, the Pirates should go with a lineup that looks something like this:
- Josh Harrison (2B)
- Josh Bell (1B)
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- David Freese (3B)
- Gregory Polanco (RF)
- Jordy Mercer (SS)
- Elias Diaz (C)
- Adam Frazier/Jose Osuna (LF)
At least, that should be the lineup until Francisco Cervelli and/or Starling Marte return. When these two return, you can adjust the lineup accordingly. But, most importantly, Andrew McCutchen needs to be moved back up in the batting order immediately.