At the beginning of the 2019 season, Andrew McCutchen appeared to be the perfect leadoff hitter for this Phillies team. He lead off the season as a matter of fact with a home run. A torn ACL suffered in June ended his season, and put 2020 in some question if he would be fully healthy. While he wasn’t bad last year, it wasn’t the season we were expecting.
He slashed .253/.324/.433, all down from his shortened season in 2019. However in September, he seemed to hit his stride a bit. Now with McCutchen fully healthy, can he return to his 2019 form?
What could go right?
Just that, he returns to his 2019 form. In just 59 games he hit 10 home runs, posted an OPS of .834, and had a DRS of 5 in left field. If he holds that pace over 162 games, or somewhere in that general vicinity, that will be more than enough for this team. On June 3, 2019, the Phillies were 33-26, one game up in the NL East, it’s no coincidence that after McCutchen went down, the Phillies only remained in first for five more games.
Getting a productive season from Cutch would be huge, with the Phillies having a consistent leadoff hitter. A 2019 type season where over 162 he hits 27 home runs, 80 RBI’s, with around an .830 OPS? It cannot be understated how fun this offense could be. It all comes down to if the pitching can hold up.
What could go wrong?
We see some major regression from Cutch, and the Phillies lose an expected key cog at the top of the lineup. If McCutchen struggles, and the Phillies have to find a new leadoff man, it could throw off the entire lineup. If essentially what he did in 2020 continues into this year over a full season, it won’t be the worst thing, but it puts Joe Girardi and the Phils in a tight spot.
Last season we also saw a huge drop off in his defense, which saw his DRS hit -7, now if this happens again along with a drop off in his hitting, he’s not just underperforming, he might be a liability to the team. With that said, I don’t think we’ll have to worry too much about him.
As he said in this Jim Salisbury article, he’s “not thinking about rehabbing at all.” Going into a season completely healthy should do wonders for Cutch, and the Phillies as a whole.