Andrew McCutchen Didn’t Hit Many Line Drives in 2014, But the Production Was There

It’s a slow period for baseball news, so this article from Fangraphs is something to hold you over while we wait for the first bit of news from 2015. Tony Blengino takes a look at the leaders and the worst hitters on balls in play in the National League. The four categories he takes a look at are pop ups, line drives, fly balls and grounders.

It might be a bit surprising to see Andrew McCutchen listed among the players with the lowest percentage of line drives when they put the ball in play. Jordy Mercer was also in the bottom ten. On the flip side, when he did hit a line drive in 2014, McCutchen was one of the most productive hitters, ranking seventh among NL hitters. Travis Snider and Pedro Alvarez were also among the most productive line drive hitters in the game. Alvarez might be a surprise since he had a poor season, but he had a high strikeout rate and wasn’t among the best at hitting line drives, plus he only had 398 at-bats on the season, so the production is based on a limited total. Snider’s production ranked sixth best in the league, while Alvarez was eighth.

Finally, Starling Marte was among the best at not popping the ball up. That is significant because as Blengino points out, batters had an .015 average and .019 slugging percentage when hitting pop ups this year. Marte popped up 2.84% of the time he put the ball in play.

  • I could just suck at reading and missed it, but does the author say where he pulled his batted ball data?

    The charted numbers don’t seem to match the batted ball data on each player’s individual page.

  • I like McCutchen, but I do not believe the Pirates could get him to sign a small extension beyond his contracted years, he knows regression, downside and any other terms used will not change the fact that he will get a huge contract when this one expires, the Pirates know it that is why they drafted Meadows, in 2018 or 2019 the Pirates will be prepared to move on without McCutchen. IMO, should they trade him a little early in that contract he should bring them a huge haul, would a huge haul be worth unloading him early.

    • Or they drafted meadows because he was the bpa on their board

      • You could be right, he was the best player available at that time, on the other hand they passed on the best player available to take Tony Sanchez because they were weak on catching in the system.

        • But that was more to sign a bunch of kids to over slot deals in later rounds but failed horribly

    • They also drafted Meadows because they were able to get McGuire in the same round.

      • True and they both fill future needs and were the best players available at the time.

      • True and they both fill future needs and were the best players available at the time.

  • John: Is it time to start the conversation about a realistic extension for Andrew McCutchen? He is signed through 2017, his age 30 season, and a Club Option for 2018 of $14.5 mil. His performance has made his contract laughable, and it is time that the Pirates recognize what he has meant to the club and the city of Pittsburgh. His total value to the Pirates using WAR has been about $140 mil while his total salary has been around $14 mil. Based on that, I would exercise that $14.5 Club Option and add a Signing Bonus of $3.5 mil; from there –
    2019 $19 mil Age 32
    2020 $20 mil Age 33
    2021 $21 mil Age 34
    2022 $20 mil Age 35
    2023 $18 mil Age 36
    2024 $16 mil Club Option Age 37

    Six Years/$116 mil. If you look at the contracts of Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria, they both have a lot of deferred compensation in their extensions. For instance, Braun has $4 mil deferred from 2016, 2017, and 2018, and $3 mil deferred from 2019 and 2020. It is without interest and payable in equal annual payments from 2022 to 2031.

    • Since he still has four years left, it might be a little early to talk extension, but they could always add salary to existing years to knock down the cost for added years. He would probably be looking at a much bigger payday per year on the open market in 2019, but that is assuming he keeps up the numbers over the next four years, so he may go for the safety of a smaller deal now as opposed to hoping he is still a peak player after all that time. It would obviously be nice to keep him around Pittsburgh for his whole career, but he is either going to be very costly in 2019 or on the downside then.

    • Do you really think that the Pirates do not already ” recognize what he has meant……” ,or are you just using that as a figure of speech ?

      • I’m pretty sure by recognize, he means rewarding him

        • What he said is much different than what you think he might have meant.

          • He talked about keeping him around longer and giving him more money, plus a bonus. That sounds like a reward for his services to me. If he said they need to realize what he means, then I might question what he meant. Recognizing someone for what they did usually merits a reward and by putting out higher dollar figures and a longer contract, plus the bonus, it sounds like they would be recognizing how valuable he is. I thought his dollar figures were low though based on his current performances. That’s what I took from his statement because the Pirates obviously know how valuable he is to the team/city so there doesn’t seem like a reason to say it.

            • I really didn’t think it needed said no matter how it is/was worded. Everything I see and hear about McCutchen indicates he is pretty happy with his status at this time, and also thinks the orginization has done a lot of good work so far this off season.

              • leo: Yep, we all recognize the value, but in the world of Major League Baseball, unless you sign (pay) your young Superstars early, they tend to go elsewhere regardless of your “intent”. Talk is very cheap.

                These are human beings and they tend to appreciate the stroking that a long term contract extension – well before it is actually needed – provides to them. I mentioned Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria – they signed extensions young and early, and will remain with their small market teams as a result of those extensions. Andrew McCutchen is well worth the effort right now.

                • And I would just bet that you are the only person in the world who has ever thought of that. Nobody in that FO would EVER think of that.

    • That contract would be another “home Town discount” from Andrew. I didn’t do the research, but he has been in the top 5 for wAR in the last 3-4 years. If one wAR is worth 5-6 mil, than he would be getting 30-36 mil a year. If you want him to complete his career as a Pirate, then void his current contract and then sign him through 2024 for 220-240 mil. That would give you one of the best Pirate players in history and be fair to both sides. I don’t know about deferred monies, but if legal you could spread it out until he gets social security. (lol) Andrew is not about all the money, but it come a time when you have to respect him and not take advantage of him. And, I think the players union would have something to say about low balling.
      It really seems incredulous to think 14 mil a year is a great contract for the owners, but that’s todays climate in MLB and it’s only going to get worst.

    • It really isnt all that crazy to think a team will offer him between 25 and 30 million per year if he has another 2 years like his past few, so that deal you give means he passes on 30-40 overall money for the security of not having to stress the next few years of injury or regression. I also think someone offers him a deal with more guaranteed years than you did, which doesnt help. Cutch has been 5 WAR or higher 4 years in a row, so unless he regresses big time a team is getting at least a 5 WAR guy with mid 6 reality. He loves Pit, Pit loves him but i dont think he wants to leave 30 million on the table and i dont think Pit wants to pay 25 million a year to a guy beyond age 35. If anything, the team will do what it always does with players and look at their projections of his future performance and judge what monetary value that earns him, along with balancing that with ensuring they can take on that contract and fill the team around him with quality per the price.

      For the Pirates to retain Cutch, it’ll take Cutch being so in love with PIT that he decides 30 million can be passed on. Possibly, but they better get ready to prove to him they are very confident they will be contenders for a long time or another team will, and Cutch isnt going to ignore a team offering more money and a good team around him.

  • Oh spring, my long lost friend spring! Where oh where are you?

  • I haven’t looked at any stats on this but it seems like Cutch has always hit a lot of hard groundballs, especially when he pulls the ball. Hopefully Cutch has not had his career year yet.

  • Arik Florimonte
    January 2, 2015 5:32 pm

    Another interesting fact from last year is that the Pirates appeared disproportionately in the top 50 for batted ball distance, and not in the order you’d expect.

    49. Neil Walker 290.9′
    42. Russell Martin, 292.8′
    40. Andrew McCutchen, 293.0′
    23. Pedro Alvarez, 297.6′
    13. Starling Marte, 300.0′
    9. Travis Snider, 301.7′

    Snider was behind Goldschmidt, Stubbs, Springer, Stanton, Abreu, Cabrera, Napoli, and Grandal.