By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
The San Francisco Giants may have fallen short in the Giancarlo Stanton Mega Millions Sweepstakes in December, but since then, the club has acquired the face of two franchises, Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay and now Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh. Say what you will about the Giants being too old, or not hitting enough homers, but you have to hand it to their front office for doing everything in their power to put a winning product on the field each and every year. Especially this “even year” coming up in the spring of 2018.
Since being drafted out of a Florida high school in the first round of the 2005 draft, McCutchen or “Cutch” has spent nine years roaming the outfield for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lifetime, McCutchen is a .291 hitter who averages 24 long balls a year. In 2018, advanced metrics predict him to provide 23 homers and a .268 average as a 31-year-old in SF.
From 2011 to 2015, McCutchen was a National League All-Star for five years in a row, finishing in the top five in MVP voting for four of those years. McCutchen was MVP in 2013, but his best year was arguably in 2012 when he scored 107 runs, hit .327, homered 31 times and stole 20 bases. Most recently in 2017, Cutch scored 94 runs, hit .279, homered 28 times and stole 11 bases.
It was no secret that the Giants desperately needed an outfielder who could hit for power and play good D, so it makes sense that they decided on McCuthen, but one has to wonder if this is enough to result in a deep playoff run for San Francisco.
The naysayers will point to the fact that McCutchen is north of 30 with a declining stat trend who will be a free agent in 2019 who will make $14.5 million in 2018. A Gold Glove winner in 2012, McCutchen’s defense is said to have dipped as of late, as evidenced by this demotion to right field in favor of Starling Marte last season, before Marte was lost to a PED suspension. Meanwhile, the exciting speed that McCutchen is known for has also dipped with age. Back in 2010, McCutchen was good for 33 stolen bags, while over the last two years (309 games), McCutchen was only able to swipe a total of 17 bases.
Similar to the narrative with 32-year old Evan Longoria, the Giants are clearly hoping that McCutchen benefits from a second-wind of sorts when he arrives in The City by the Bay. Both are superstar type players that have carried their franchises in the past. Both had breakout rookie years, have won Gold Gloves, put up MVP type numbers and been extremely durable. The question remains then, will these two stars shine bright yet again in 2018? AT&T will certainly be sold out to see first hand. They will have good reason to expect a winner.