2013 Projection: Why Andrew McCutchen Is Better Suited To Be A Second Round Selection

Most fantasy owners were waiting for Andrew McCutchen to break out and become a superstar. You could just see the potential in the numbers and could see him inching his way to stardom. He fulfilled the promise in 2012, posting the following line:

593 At Bats
.327 Batting Average (194 Hits)
31 Home Runs
96 RBI
107 Runs
20 Stolen Bases
.400 On Base Percentage
.553 Slugging Percentage
.375 BABIP

While it was a magical season, fantasy owners need to be a little bit cautious when valuing him for 2013. The knee jerk reaction is to dub him a superstar and a first round pick. However, making that assessment could put you in a significant hole that you won’t be able to recover from.

The first number that jumps out at you is the BABIP. Even with his speed and a 21.9% line drive rate, there is little chance that he can replicate it. Keep in mind, the line drive rate was really inflated for just three months (he closed the year with months of 18.5% and 18.6%). Over those two months his BABIP were also much more realistic, at .321 and .278, leading to averages in the .250s.

While that is a bit of an over correction, it is a lot easier to argue in favor of those types of numbers than him hitting in the .320s once again. The truth should lie somewhere in between (.280-.290) and, while no one would complain about it, it clearly is a downgrade.

The power is another number to question, as his HR/FB jumped all the way to 19.4% (his previous high was 12.2%). Now, there is adding power and then there is a probable unsustainable jump in the numbers.

The higher numbers correspond with his torrid three month stretch from May through July, and while we don’t want to completely disregard it we also don’t want to bank on him repeating it. The difference is, however, that he actually posted a career low fly ball rate (34.3%). So, while he may not hit 31 HR again, an elevated fly ball rate will help to offset the drop in HR/FB. I would think high-20s is realistic.

Obviously, the rest of the numbers are reasonable, though I am not sure I would anticiapte over 100 runs scored again. With the likely drop in average and a less than stellar lineup surrounding him, that seems hard to maintain.

At the end of the day we are looking at the following projection:

.292 (168-575), 27 HR, 95 RBI, 95 R, 24 SB, .329 BABIP, .375 OBP, .511 SLG

Are those numbers we would all like to own? Absolutely, but they also are just a borderline first round value. If you can get him at the very end of first round or in the second, he should pay dividends. Just don’t push him any higher than that due to the likely regression.

What are your thoughts of McCutchen?  Do you think he can replicate his 2012 success?  Where would you be targeting him on draft day?

***** Pre-order the Rotoprofessor 2013 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide today for just $6!!  Expanded rankings, prospect lists, Top 25 sleepers and so much more!  To order, or for more information, click here. *****

Make sure to check out all of our 2013 projections:

Bum or Bust: Why Madison Bumgarner Should Be Considered A Top 20 Fantasy SP
Late Round Flier: DoesThe Twins' Scott Diamond Offer The Skill Set Worth Rolling The Dice On?

8 comments

  1. Tony Jaramillo says:

    I agree with your projection as a possibility; but, disagree with his draft spot. In order for him to fall late 1st round and into the 2nd round, who (may I ask) jumps in front of him on the draft board?
    Votto? NO
    Kinsler? NO
    starting pitcher? NO

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I would absolutely take Votto before McCutchen, no questions asked.

      I wouldn’t take Kinsler, the only middle infielder that holds more value than McCutchen is Cano

      A SP? That depends on the format, but I wouldn’t say it was impossible.

      A lot of his draft position depends on where you value him against the other second tier OF, like Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton

      • big o says:

        that 1st tier for outfielders must be pretty small , if you have hamilton and mccutchen listed as 2nd tier guys .

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          To me, the top tier is Braun/Trout/Kemp. Those three are far and away better than the rest of the pack. After that, you can lump the next set of guys together and really rank them how you see fit.

  2. Darin says:

    Hey Professor. I’m in a custom keeper league.
    Should I trade McCutchen for a top tier SP this spring, if possible. I also have Adam Jones, Jay Bruce, Alex Rios, Desmond Jennings (on bench) to fill 3 OF. My 2 sure SP’s are Cole Hamels & Mad Bumgarner and 3 iffys (Peavy, Miley, Niese) or should I keep Cutch and try to trade Rios or Jennings for Mid tier SP??? Thanks.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      What are the keeper rules and what type of SP do you think you can get? It’s a hard question to answer in a vacuum, honestly.

      You will get a much better SP for McCutchen and I am all for selling high on him. That said, Rios is definitely worth exploring and seeing what you can get. It wouldn’t shock me if you can get someone on the same tier as Bumgarner (Latos perhaps?), though that depends on the owners in your league

  3. Rowe says:

    If you are in a keeper league you should keep mccuchen. Why trade him for a SP. Pitching is deep..DEEP and they have problems outfielder don’t have…I.e. Arm problems. Anybody who says the young mccuchen is a 2nd round pick is welcome to join any league I play in. And watch me take him in the first. And I wish somebody would trade him to me for a pitcher…ANY pitcher.

  4. Marcus says:

    I’m in a 10-team, 2-keeper league. Braun is already my 1st, but who should be my 2nd keeper… McCutchen or Strasburg? And why? Thanks in advance.

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