What happened to the Andrew McCutchen who finished top-five in NL MVP voting four straight seasons from 2012 to 2015? Fantasy owners saw the 30-year-old unexpectedly drop off a cliff last summer. He batted just .241/.311/.408 with a 35:107 BB:K through July. A final two-month rally -- .284 batting average, .852 OPS and 34:36 BB:K -- helped salvage a terrible showing, but serious questions remain. Defensively, McCutchen finished last in defensive runs saved (-28) and numerous other metrics, leading to speculation Pittsburgh might move him from center field. They should. He swiped only six bases (in 13 attempts) and rarely showed the athleticism that made him elite. The outfielder will likely rebound to some extent in 2017, but even his late-season improvement wasn't on par with his previous All-Star seasons. Waiting on him to drop in drafts might be the best route to take.
McCutchen went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a walk Wednesday during Team USA's victory over Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic championship game. Cutch poked clutch RBI singles in the fifth and eighth innings as the United States went on to win 8-0, and the veteran went 5-for-21 with 5 RBI during the WBC. His fantasy stock may remain a bit undervalued in many circles, presenting a potentially profitable buying opportunity in mixed leagues.
McCutchen (back) went 1-for-2 with a single, sacrifice fly and a stolen base during his return to action Saturday against the Red Sox. The back issue was clearly never anything to worry about, as the 30-year-old felt good enough to play Saturday after dealing with some tightness earlier in the day. He'll head to the World Baseball Classic soon and shouldn't have any lingering issues moving forward.
McCutchen is nursing a tight back but expects to play Saturday against the Red Sox, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. The outfielder said his back was "a little tight when [he] woke up this morning." He wore a heat wrap on his lower back before Saturday's game. McCutchen has dealt with chronic knee issues throughout his career, but has never made mention of back problems. The Pirates have little incentive to play him during a meaningless exhibition game, so if there's any question about his injury, he'll likely sit out. Otherwise, the tight back may simply indicate that the former MVP is now 30 years old.
McCutchen went 1-for-4 with a run Thursday against the Tigers. He has four hits (including two doubles) in 15 Grapefruit League at-bats thus far and has made a relatively easy transition from center field to right. McCutchen, who will soon leave for the World Baseball Classic, has enjoyed a quiet camp following a tumultuous winter.
McCutchen will bat third for the Pirates this season, MLB.com's Adam Berry reports. While the Pirates have understandably cooled on McCutchen's outfield defense, they will still rely on him to serve as a run producer in the three hole this season. He hit .268/.349/.450 with 15 home runs and five steals (on nine attempts) over 395 plate appearances in that spot in the lineup last season.