Designated Hitter - Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen's return was met with great enthusiasm by most Pirates fans. However, expectations were relatively low for the veteran and former MVP. After coming off what was easily his worst season as a Major Leaguer, Cutch has returned to a mid-late-2010s form of himself, greatly surpassing any expectations that were set prior to the 2023 season.
McCutchen is batting .268/.383/.425 with a .356 wOBA and 123 wRC+ on the season. His OBP is the best rate he has put up since 2015, the last time he made an all-star game for the Pirates. His 19.8% K-rate is also the best since his days with the Pirates, and his 15.1% walk rate is on pace for his best rate ever (unless you count the 16.4% walk rate he put up with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2019 when he only appeared in 59 games).
Although his raw power numbers haven't changed much, his isolated slugging percentage of .159 is well below his career norms. In my opinion, Cutch has been worked around a lot this season. At the end of April, when the Pirates were firing on all cylinders, he had a .222 ISO and a 13% walk rate. Since then, his ISO has dropped to just .125, but his walk rate is up to 16.3%.
Cutch has spent pretty much the entire season as the Pirates' designated hitter. He does have 64.1 innings played in right field, but he hasn't started a game on the grass since April 13th. He might get a few innings in the event of an injury or late-inning blowout game, but as of right now, he's going to man the DH spot in the line-up for the rest of the year.
McCutchen's return has been nothing short of phenomenal. A 124 wRC+ is the best remark he's put up since his last season in Pittsburgh prior to his return. In a season that's had its ups and downs, McCutchen has remained a constant and will look to carry his strong first half into the second half.