The 2020 regular season is scheduled to begin in late July, which means it’s finally time to talk some baseball! To prepare you for the season, Phillies Nation will be taking an in-depth look at all of your favorite players. Here’s a review of Andrew McCutchen’s 2019 season as well as what to expect from the Phillies left fielder in 2020.
Over his 11-year career, Andrew McCutchen has been known around the MLB for his veteran leadership, dependability and ability to get on base.
When the Phillies signed McCutchen to a 3 year, $50 million in December 2018, it provided them with answers to four areas of need seen in the rebuilding years. It gave them a dependable everyday outfielder, a veteran presence in the clubhouse, a productive everyday leadoff guy and an on-base presence. But an unfortunate injury in June put McCutchen’s valuable presence on the field to a halt.
2019 Stats: 59 G, 262 PA, 56 H, 10 HR, 29 RBI, .256/.378/.457, 115+ OPS, 1.5 fWAR
There is no question that McCutchen had a great first impression with Phillies fans. In his first at-bat in the red pinstripes, he smashed a Julio Tehran 92 mph fastball for a 465-foot home run.
The five-time All-Star went on to provide a big key to the lineup in April and May with his ability to get onto base. Not only did this provide a speedster on the basepaths for the Phillies but it allowed hitters like Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins to flourish in their comfort zone of driving in runs. During those two months, McCutchen had his highest walk percentage since 2015 according to FanGraphs.
Unfortunately for McCutchen, his strong start took a quick turn. In the first inning during a game in San Diego in early June, the veteran outfielder suffered a non-contact injury during a rundown which ended up being a torn ACL.
Following McCutchen’s injury, the Phillies struggled to find his replacement at the leadoff spot. The team went on to finish the season with a record of 49-54. His absence from the lineup really showed in September when the Phillies were still fighting for a Wild Card spot, something that, at a minimum, the team hopes to do in 2020.
Originally the Phillies were going to open up the 2020 season without McCutchen but after the season was delayed due to the pandemic, the 33-year-old is fully healthy and should be in Joe Girardi’s Opening Day starting lineup on July 24 against the Marlins.
“McCutchen as far as we can tell is 100 percent ready to go,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said to the collective media, including Phillies Nation’s own Tim Kelly, on June 29.
Getting McCutchen back for an entire season is going to serve the Phillies in a big way. It not only gives them a consistent baserunner but also a consistent bat in the lineup for a team that will look to be contenders in a crowded and competitive division.
The DH coming to the National League should bode well for McCutchen. Though the Phillies plan on using McCutchen as their everyday left fielder, using McCutchen as an occasional DH would allow him to get an off day from playing in the field. This is something Girardi expressed in a Zoom press conference to the collective media on July 2.
As noted by Phillies Nation’s own Jonny Heller, the Phillies have not had a consistent starter in left field on Opening Day in the last seven years. McCutchen will be the first to do it since Raul Ibanez did it from 2009-12.
If McCutchen can replicate what he did last year for the Phillies, there should be no question about him being a candidate for National League Comeback Player of the Year.
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