May 31, 2017
The Wishful Thinking of Andrew McCutchen
Last year was a sad one for Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates. The team finished 78-83, 25 games behind the Cubs in the National League Central, breaking a streak of three straight postseason appearances (yes, as a Wild Card, but still). And one of the reasons for the downturn was the former MVP, who had hit .298/.388/.496 over his seven-year career in Pittsburgh. In 2016, the man whose 2015 BP Annual comment simply said, “Practically the perfect franchise player,” slumped to .256/.336/.430, all career lows.
This year is sadder still. The Pirates are in last place, and McCutchen has slid further, to .213/.286/.383. Among the 177 players qualified for the batting title through Sunday’s games, his .668 OPS ranks 148th. He’s the worst hitter in the Pirates' lineup.
It wasn’t supposed to go like this. His 2016, it was whispered, was affected by an undisclosed injury. His BABIP fell from .339 in 2015 to .297 in 2016, indicating bad luck. Yes, he turned 30 last October, but 30 isn’t that old. A bounceback, maybe not to his prior level, but well above 2016’s nosedive, seemed in order. This is Andrew McCutchen, for crying out loud.