Breaking Down the Andrew McCutchen Signing (Fantasy Baseball)
After Phillies owner John Middleton made reference to the club being ready to spend big money this offseason, fans were anticipating the arrival of the Winter Meetings to see if the team would make a splash. With players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado constantly being linked to Philly, everyone was waiting to see when the spending spree would begin. The spree started off in a less dramatic fashion last Tuesday when Andrew McCutchen signed a three-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies. However, this signing is nothing to be slept on and could provide the veteran presence that the team was missing last season as they made a late push for the playoffs. Additionally, the new scenery should give McCutchen an opportunity to improve his counting stats from last season and post solid fantasy numbers as a left fielder.
When looking at McCutchen’s mediocre counting stats from last year, it wouldn’t be far fetched to expect these numbers to grow. According to RotoChamp’s projected 2019 lineups, McCutchen is projected to hit in between Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins — assuming neither Harper or Machado are signed. From this information, I would argue that his 65 RBIs will trend upward into a range that would provide a steady source of RBIs for his owners. These players should be able to offer McCutchen more opportunities than Alen Hanson, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt did last season.
We can also look at the change in park factors to further support the claim that his counting stats are going to improve. Left field at AT&T Park is 339 feet deep, but the left field wall is only 329 feet deep at his new home. As a pull hitter, these dimensions will help McCutchen lift a few more balls over the fence and result in better power numbers. Obviously, this is not a huge change, but pairing this with the fact that he will be hitting in between much better hitters than he was in San Francisco gives way to some optimism.
As a player who usually starts off the season slowly, McCutchen makes up for it with his ability to stay on the field. As a player who has logged more than 640 plate appearances for nine straight seasons, McCutchen has established himself as one of the most durable players in the game. As a fantasy owner, it is great to have players that you can depend on being in the lineup on a day-to-day basis. In Philly, McCutchen is going to assume the everyday role as a left fielder and should once again surpass 600 plate appearances.
While he is not going to hit 30 home runs this year, he’s hit at least 20 since 2010. Last season, he quietly ranked inside the top 60 players in terms of xwOBA per MLB.com, which ranked higher than players like Marcell Ozuna, Kris Bryant, and his new teammate Rhys Hoskins. This means that McCutchen is still hitting the ball well even at age 32. While playing most of his games at a hitter-friendly park, McCutchen should see his overall performance trend in a positive direction.
In the middle to later part of the draft, I would gladly take a player who plays every day and can hit .265 with 80 RBIs and 20+ home runs. He’s also going to provide useful runs, and he stole 14 bases last season between the Giants and Yankees. It will be interesting to see where Harper and Machado end up because this outlook does not even encompass the fact that Phillies could have a batting order that includes Segura, Harper or Machado, McCutchen, and Hoskins. Adding either one of those players would obviously boost McCutchen’s value, but the current Phillies lineup is already better than his Giants from last year. This makes me feel like he can be an effective left fielder in 2019 and reward owners who use a late-round pick on him. As of now, players like Ender Inciarte and Michael Conforto are projected to be taken ahead of McCutchen, but I can see him being a more valuable asset.