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
20 Stolen Bases
.400 On Base Percentage
.553 Slugging Percentage
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: