The New York Yankees added another former NL MVP to their roster in Andrew McCutchen. What are realistic expectations?
When Aaron Judge landed on the disabled list after being hit by a pitch on the wrist in late July, fans were told he’d be back on the field in three weeks. Because of this short, optimistic estimate, general manager Brian Cashman decided to not bring in another outfielder to try and fill the void.
Well, over a month has passed since Judge got hurt and there is still no timetable on the slugger’s return. With that being the case, Cashman finally decided to bring in another outfield option to help deepen the lineup.
On Thursday night, it was first reported the New York Yankees agreed to a deal with the San Francisco Giants that would be sending former National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen to the Bronx for two prospects.
But what should fans expect from their newest outfielder?
Right off the bat, fans can’t anticipate McCutchen to play at the same level he did in his prime with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2011-2015. In that time frame, McCutchen was named to the All-Star Game each year, won a Gold Glove in 2012, took home a Silver Slugger every year except 2011 and won the MVP award in 2013.
He simply doesn’t put up that type of production anymore and is a different player. However, this doesn’t make him over the hill or washed up. McCutchen can still play good baseball and contribute to a team.
Rather than be looked at as a big name acquisition who will be a game changer, McCutchen should be looked at as a solid player brought in to add some depth. This season, he is hitting .255 with 15 home runs and 55 runs batted with an on-base percentage of .357.
Since Judge’s injury, the outfield as a whole has been plagued with lackluster play.
Brett Gardner struggled all of August and could use a day or so off and hasn’t been able to get one. Giancarlo Stanton has had to play every day despite not being at one hundred percent. The position of right-field has been a revolving door and been occupied by the compromised Stanton, first-time major league outfielder Neil Walker and journeyman Shane Robinson.
McCutchen’s presence on the roster should stabilize the outfield and give Aaron Boone a better option to put out there while allowing him to rest more worn down players.
Boone already sees a role for the 31-year-old. With Aaron Hicks‘ bat being too important to the middle of the order, Boone has McCutchen in mind for the lead off spot. In his career, McCutchen has hit lead off the second most in his career, only behind third.
Aaron Boone on Aaron Judge"s return, following Andrew McCutchen's signing: "We're still optimistic in the plan. The belief is he'll be back with plenty of time." Boone says he also sees McCutchen as someone who can hit throughout the lineup, but a "definite" leadoff option.
— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 31, 2018
One last thing to keep note of is McCutchen’s numbers in the playoffs. While he doesn’t have much postseason experience and hasn’t been there since 2015, McCutchen has a .321 average in the eight playoff games he’s appeared in.
McCutchen will join the Yankees this afternoon as they take on the Detroit Tigers in the third game of a four-game series.