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Fantasy411 Podcast: What is Cutch's value?

Ex-Bucs star headed to Giants in final year before free agency
January 19, 2018

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.Matthew Leach: We start with Andrew McCutchen, who joins the

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.
Matthew Leach: We start with Andrew McCutchen, who joins the Giants -- who seem to be building a heck of a team for 2012… the problem is they already won that World Series. But what does the move from Pittsburgh to San Francisco do to his value in your eyes, Fred?
Fred Zinkie: I don't think it's a big negative -- I don't think it's a positive, though. Looking at it overall, the Pirates outscored the Giants last season, but both of the teams were bottom-five lineups. The Pirates have a pitcher-friendly home park; the Giants have an even more pitcher-friendly home park.
I dropped my projections for McCutchen just ever so slightly. I already was worried that he was going to be overvalued this season. I just don't see him repeating the 28 home runs from last year. For me, this maybe makes it a little more certain in my mind that he's probably a low-20s home run hitter rather than a high-20s home run hitter. But beyond that, I think, assuming they figure out someone to hit leadoff, the 2-3-4 of their lineup being something in the range of [Buster] Posey, McCutchen and [Evan] Longoria -- that doesn't sound that bad, right?
Leach: Yeah, I'm kind of optimistic. Like I said, I joked, I don't think from a team-building perspective that what the Giants are doing necessarily makes a lot of sense in any kind of long view. But in the short view, they're better than they were. And the other thing is, it's pretty clear at this point that the Pirates are clearing house. So the one thing I would say is, will the 2018 Giants be a better lineup than the 2017 Pirates? Probably a little bit. Will they be a better lineup than the 2018 Pirates at this point? Yeah, I think they will be by a lot. I think that at this point, if you're playing keeper leagues, dynasty leagues, and you have some of the remaining Pirates, you really hope they get dealt. You don't want to have the last guy standing in Pittsburgh, whether that's Josh Harrison or David Freese or whoever.

The other thing is ...San Francisco is not that bad a place for a right-handed hitter. So I don't think the change in park is that big a deal for [McCutchen]. You know, I do think he's a guy who the name value is really significant, but at the same time, he had a really good year last year. He's a guy who contributes in a lot of ways. The question for me with McCutchen is the steals. Is he gonna get you 15-20 steals, or is this gonna be the year that that really falls off? Because any year now, it probably is gonna fall off. I don't think he's gonna be a guy who's stealing 20 bags at age 35, 36.
So I think the question you have to ask yourself is, do you think he's gonna run enough to justify wherever it is you're thinking about picking him? Because I think we have a pretty good range on most of his other numbers. I don't think he's likely to really surprise us, for better or worse, in anything but stolen bases. Where would you put McCutchen for steals in '18?
Zinkie: I actually think he'll be somewhere around where he's been the last three seasons. The last three seasons, he's gone 11, six, 11. I don't think he will drop off, simply for the fact that I'm gonna guess that in his walk year, he's gonna want to show some ability to steal bases. I mean, it just changes his profile, probably, heading into free agency if he steals two bases, three bases this season.
That being said, I don't think he necessarily has the basestealing skills anymore to steal 20 or 25 bases. I could be wrong on that, but in those last three years, he's 11-for-16, he's 6-for-13, he's 11-for-16. Those are the last three seasons. It seems as though -- I don't really know if the potential's there. I don't think the Giants would be wise to let him try to steal, to send him stealing 25-30 times this year and hope that he comes out with 20 steals. I just don't see that happening. I think you get a double-digit steals total, that's about it.
To backtrack to some of my comments on his power: One thing that over the years I've tended to try to shy away from -- and this is just maybe a personal preference -- but it's players whose previous year's performance was clustered into a few really oddball games. And he is one of the players who did that last year. He had three two-homer games and a three-homer game last season out of those 28 homers. So the home runs were really clustered, and they were also clustered into certain spurts during the season. But I'm OK with him in the low 20s. And I think with the steals, it just kind of stays there. Do you agree with me, Matthew, that he'll probably want to show some speed before he hits the open market?
Leach: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense.
Generally, I think maybe we can overstate the change in a trade. But when a guy has been with one organization his entire professional career -- and that goes back to, I'm double-checking to make sure I'm right here, he was drafted in '05 -- so he's spent 12 1/2 years, parts of 13 seasons with Pittsburgh. He's never known another organization. I think it is interesting to wonder just what is gonna be different. Is he gonna want to show something? Is he gonna press? Because that's another thing. Is he gonna press, is he gonna try to prove that he was worth trading for, that he's got something in the tank? There are any number of unknowns.
But I think the fact that he had kind of a bounceback last year, and he had a year last year that kind of resembled two years before, I just think overall… Look, let me put it this way: Let's take McCutchen's last three seasons. Because one thing he's been is very, very durable. He's never played fewer than 146 games in a full season, going back to his rookie year. Let's give him the last three seasons, averaged: 89 runs, 25 homers, 88 RBIs, nine steals, .275 [batting average]. That seems… that sounds good to me.
Zinkie: Yep, I agree.
Leach: Does that sound about on the nose to you?
Zinkie: Yeah, pretty much. I might take the under on some of those, but I'd be taking the under by two or three runs, two or three RBIs, a home run or two. And of all the negative things I said about McCutchen, I think you pointed out one real positive with him: One career DL stint, and it was for the minimum, and it was from way back in 2014. In this era, when a lot of players are spending time on the disabled list, there is value there. And also knowing that you can probably roll McCutchen all 26 weeks of the season and feel good about it.