Earlier this season I wrote an article discussing “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Phillies 2021 Season So Far.” Under the ugly section, I wrote this about Andrew McCutchen:
“One final ugly of this season so far is Andrew McCutchen. His slash line is .154/.300/.231, while his OPS is .531. His OBP is high because he has walked a lot this season, enough that he is second behind Harper for the team lead in walks. His production has significantly declined. His age, and possibly his torn ACL from 2019 is leading to that lack of production. Cutch is loved by Phillies fans and has a positive presence on the field, in the dugout, and the community. He has had an incredible career. But, the lack of production so far this season is quite detrimental to the team.”
I am happy to report that McCutchen has turned his season around since that article as he now sports a slash line of .230/.353/.449 with 17 home runs, 52 RBIs, .802 OPS, and an OPS+ of 120. Most would find these numbers to be average or maybe even above average but nothing to write home about. But for Cutch, as he is often called, and the Phillies, these are numbers that show a quiet resurgence.
Cutch has not played a full season since 2018. His 2019 season was cut short by a horrific ACL injury after 59 games. He played 57 games in last year’s 60 game season – though it should not be comparable to a normal MLB season anyway. In 2018, Cutch predominately played for the San Francisco Giants while also playing for the New York Yankees. His slash line that year was .255/.368/.424 with an OPS of .797, 120 OPS+, 20 home runs, and 65 RBIs. There are definitely some similarities between his 2018 season and the 2021 season. There is a huge gap in his batting average, but his slugging, OBP, and OPS+ are fairly similar. His OPS and slugging are actually higher this season than in 2018. One factor that explains why his slugging is so much higher in 2021 than in 2018 is that Cutch hit 20 home runs in 155 games in 2018 but he has hit 17 home runs in 87 games this season. He is on pace to exceed his 2018 home run total a little over halfway into the 2021 season.
Cutch also continues to draw walks, as he leads the Phillies in that category and currently sports an above-average OBP, slugging, and OPS when compared to the league average. His RBI total from 2018 was 65 and this year he is on pace to exceed that, as he has 52 RBIs already. Cutch has turned himself into a patient slugger who will not have a high batting average but will cause damage when he does connect with the baseball. He sits behind Rhys Hoskins for the team lead in home runs and RBIs while also seventh in the entire league for walks drawn.
People may find Cutch’s numbers this season as unimpressive. These are not 2013 MVP numbers from Cutch. His average this season is on the lower end and he is not hitting home runs like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Shohei Ohtani. But for the 34-year old, whose time with the Phillies has been cut short by an ACL injury and a deadly global pandemic, this season is Cutch’s reckoning. He started poorly but has since made himself a cornerstone to the Phillies offense. When comparing his 2018 season to this season, one can argue that he is making a quiet resurgence and showing that he can still hit produce offensively at his age and after a season-ending ACL tear injury two years ago.
One final fun fact about Cutch is that whenever he hits a home run, he plays rock paper scissors with Phillies third-base coach Dusty Wathan. He has been doing this home run celebration with Wathan since 2019 but really garnered attention in 2020, as it was a socially distanced celebration. It has been fun to see more of these epic rock paper scissors matchups this season as Cutch hits more home runs. But, Cutch has made it clear that Wathan is much better at rock paper scissors than him.